[kri-shen-doh, -sen-doh; Italian kre-shen-daw]
See more synonyms for crescendo on
noun, plural cre·scen·dos, cre·scen·di [kri-shen-dee, -sen-dee; Italian kre-shen-dee] /krɪˈʃɛn di, -ˈsɛn di; Italian krɛˈʃɛn di/.
  1. Music.
    1. a gradual, steady increase in loudness or force.
    2. a musical passage characterized by such an increase.
    3. the performance of a crescendo passage: The crescendo by the violins is too abrupt.
  2. a steady increase in force or intensity: The rain fell in a crescendo on the rooftops.
  3. the climactic point or moment in such an increase; peak: The authorities finally took action when public outrage reached a crescendo.
adjective, adverb
  1. gradually increasing in force, volume, or loudness (opposed to decrescendo or diminuendo).
verb (used without object)
  1. to grow in force or loudness.

Origin of crescendo

1770–80; < Italian: literally, growing < Latin crēscendum, gerund of crēscere to grow; see crescent

Antonyms for crescendo Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for crescendo

Contemporary Examples of crescendo

Historical Examples of crescendo

  • The crescendo of motors as he ran, sobbing now in fear, for the cover of the jungle.

    Happy Ending

    Fredric Brown

  • Then his ears caught a crescendo of the whispering that he had heard before.

    The Whispering Spheres

    Russell Robert Winterbotham

  • Her voice had a crescendo of vehemence up to this last name.

    The Mermaid

    Lily Dougall

  • But that crescendo is well done; yes, that is most effective.


    E. F. Benson

  • He felt the forces within him reach a crescendo at that moment.

    The Monster

    S. M. Tenneshaw

British Dictionary definitions for crescendo


noun plural -dos or -di (-dɪ)
  1. music
    1. a gradual increase in loudness or the musical direction or symbol indicating thisAbbreviation: cresc, (written over the music affected)
    2. (as modifier)a crescendo passage
  2. a gradual increase in loudness or intensitythe rising crescendo of a song
  3. a peak of noise or intensitythe cheers reached a crescendo
verb -does, -doing or -doed
  1. (intr) to increase in loudness or force
  1. with a crescendo

Word Origin for crescendo

C18: from Italian, literally: increasing, from crescere to grow, from Latin
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

Word Origin and History for crescendo

1776 as a musical term, from Italian crescendo "increasing," from Latin crescendo, ablative of gerund of crescere "to increase" (see crescent). Figurative use is from 1785. As a verb, from 1900.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

crescendo in Culture



A musical direction used to indicate increasing loudness.


The term is sometimes used figuratively to indicate rising intensity in general: “As the days went on, there was a crescendo of angry letters about my speech.” Crescendo is also sometimes misused to indicate a peak of intensity, as in, “The angry letters about my speech hit a crescendo on Wednesday.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.