[ kri-shen-doh, -sen-doh; Italian kre-shen-daw ]
/ krɪˈʃɛn doʊ, -ˈsɛn doʊ; Italian krɛˈʃɛn dɔ /

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. 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.
a steady increase in force or intensity: The rain fell in a crescendo on the rooftops.
the climactic point or moment in such an increase; peak: The authorities finally took action when public outrage reached a crescendo.

adjective, adverb

gradually increasing in force, volume, or loudness (opposed to decrescendo or diminuendo).

verb (used without object)

to grow in force or loudness.



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Origin of crescendo

1770–80; <Italian: literally, growing <Latin crēscendum, gerund of crēscere to grow; see crescent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for crescendo

  • It was followed by a grating noise that crescendoed and culminated in a terrific crash.

    Spillthrough|Daniel F. Galouye
  • Her sustained and crescendoed high C in the third act of this opera is worth a long journey to hear.

    Stars of the Opera|Mabel Wagnalls

British Dictionary definitions for crescendo

/ (krɪˈʃɛndəʊ) /

noun plural -dos or -di (-dɪ)

  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
a gradual increase in loudness or intensitythe rising crescendo of a song
a peak of noise or intensitythe cheers reached a crescendo

verb -does, -doing or -doed

(intr) to increase in loudness or force


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

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.