temper

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

tem·per / ˈtempər/ • n. 1. [in sing.] a person's state of mind seen in terms of their being angry or calm: he rushed out in a very bad temper. ∎  a tendency to become angry easily: I know my temper gets the better of me at times. ∎  an angry state of mind: Drew had walked out in a temper | I only said it in a fit of temper. ∎  a character or mode of thought: the temper of the late sixties. 2. the degree of hardness and elasticity in steel or other metal: the blade rapidly heats up and the metal loses its temper. • v. [tr.] 1. improve the hardness and elasticity of (steel or other metal) by reheating and then cooling it. ∎  improve the consistency or resiliency of (a substance) by heating it or adding particular substances to it. 2. (often be tempered with) serve as a neutralizing or counterbalancing force to (something): their idealism is tempered with realism. 3. tune (a piano or other instrument) so as to adjust the note intervals correctly. PHRASES: keep (or lose) one's temper refrain (or fail to refrain) from becoming angry. out of temper in an irritable mood.DERIVATIVES: tem·per·er n. ORIGIN: Old English temprian ‘bring something into the required condition by mixing it with something else,’ from Latin temperare ‘mingle, restrain oneself.’ Sense development was probably influenced by Old French temprer ‘to temper, moderate.’ The noun originally denoted a proportionate mixture of elements or qualities, also the combination of the four bodily humors, believed in medieval times to be the basis of temperament, hence sense 1 (late Middle English). Compare with temperament.

More From Encyclopedia.com


MORE ON THIS TOPIC