[ kri-shen-doh, -sen-doh; Italian kre-shen-daw ]
See 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.

    • a gradual, steady increase in loudness or force.

    • a musical passage characterized by such an increase.

    • 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.

  1. 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

Opposites for crescendo

Words Nearby crescendo Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use crescendo in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for crescendo


/ (krɪˈʃɛndəʊ) /

nounplural -dos or -di (-dɪ)
  1. music

    • a gradual increase in loudness or the musical direction or symbol indicating this: Abbreviation: cresc, (written over the music affected)

    • (as modifier): a crescendo passage

  2. a gradual increase in loudness or intensity: the rising crescendo of a song

  1. a peak of noise or intensity: the cheers reached a crescendo

verb-does, -doing or -doed
  1. (intr) to increase in loudness or force

  1. with a crescendo

Origin of 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

Cultural definitions for crescendo


[ (kruh-shen-doh) ]

A musical direction used to indicate increasing loudness.

Notes for crescendo

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.