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[tem-per-uh-muh nt, -pruh-muh nt, -per-muh nt] /ˈtɛm pər ə mənt, -prə mənt, -pər mənt/
the combination of mental, physical, and emotional traits of a person; natural predisposition.
unusual personal attitude or nature as manifested by peculiarities of feeling, temper, action, etc., often with a disinclination to submit to conventional rules or restraints.
(old physiology) the combination of the four cardinal humors, the relative proportions of which were supposed to determine physical and mental constitution.
  1. the tuning of a keyboard instrument, as the piano, organ, or harpsichord, so that the instrument may be played in all keys without further tuning.
  2. a particular system of doing this.
Archaic. an act of tempering or moderating.
Archaic. climate.
Origin of temperament
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Latin temperāmentum due mixture, equivalent to temperā(re) to mix properly + -mentum -ment
1. nature, makeup.
Synonym Study
1. See disposition. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for temperament
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Their difference in habit, temperament, thought—all became plain.

    Cavanagh: Forest Ranger Hamlin Garland
  • Age is a question of temperament, just as youth is a question of health.

    The Green Carnation Robert Smythe Hichens
  • Indian nation must grow according to its own temperament in the light I have described.

    India for Indians C. R. (Chittaranjan) Das
  • "I think one's temperament should be one's leader in life, certainly," he answered.

    The Green Carnation Robert Smythe Hichens
  • This was a matter of temperament, perhaps, but it reveals the humanity as well as the divinity of the man.

British Dictionary definitions for temperament


/ˈtɛmpərəmənt; -prəmənt/
an individual's character, disposition, and tendencies as revealed in his reactions
excitability, moodiness, or anger, esp when displayed openly: an actress with temperament
the characteristic way an individual behaves, esp towards other people See also character, personality
  1. an adjustment made to the frequency differences between notes on a keyboard instrument to allow modulation to other keys
  2. any of several systems of such adjustment, such as just temperament, a system not practically possible on keyboard instruments, mean-tone temperament, a system giving an approximation to natural tuning, and equal temperament, the system commonly used in keyboard instruments, giving a scale based on an octave divided into twelve exactly equal semitones See also just intonation
(obsolete) the characteristic way an individual behaves, viewed as the result of the influence of the four humours (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile)
(archaic) compromise or adjustment
an obsolete word for temperature
Word Origin
C15: from Latin temperāmentum a mixing in proportion, from temperāre to temper
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for temperament

early 15c., "proportioned mixture of elements," from Latin temperamentum "proper mixture," from temperare "to mix" (see temper). In medieval theory, it meant a combination of qualities (hot, cold, moist, dry) that determined the nature of an organism; this was extended to a combination of the four humors (sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic) that made up a person's characteristic disposition. General sense of "habit of mind, natural disposition" is from 1821.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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temperament in Medicine

temperament tem·per·a·ment (těm'prə-mənt, těm'pər-ə-)

  1. The manner of thinking, behaving, or reacting characteristic of a specific person.

  2. Disposition; temper.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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