• synonyms


[kri-shen-doh, -sen-doh; Italian kre-shen-daw]
See more synonyms for crescendo on Thesaurus.com
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.
Show More
adjective, adverb
  1. gradually increasing in force, volume, or loudness (opposed to decrescendo or diminuendo).
Show More
verb (used without object)
  1. to grow in force or loudness.
Show More

Origin of crescendo

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

Antonyms for crescendo

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for crescendo

upsurge, escalation, building, culmination, elevation, zenith, apex, rise, surge, summit, peak, ascension, pinnacle, climb, crest, intensification

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
Show More
verb -does, -doing or -doed
  1. (intr) to increase in loudness or force
Show More
  1. with a crescendo
Show More

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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

crescendo in Culture



A musical direction used to indicate increasing loudness.

Show More


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.