Origin of rhythm

1550–60; < Latin rhythmus < Greek rhythmós; compare rheîn to flow
Related formsrhythm·less, adjectivenon·rhythm, noun
Can be confusedrhyme rhythm

Synonyms for rhythm

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rhythm

Contemporary Examples of rhythm

Historical Examples of rhythm

  • Johnnie watched her walking away, for the rhythm of her motion attracted him.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • She was a little surprised at this noise of bravos in rhythm.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • A poor, sad puppet dancing to a tune I know not the rhythm of.

    The Golden Fountain

    Lilian Staveley

  • His voice rose; he was falling into the rhythm of a scene with Jacky.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • Music too is concerned with the principles of love in their application to harmony and rhythm.

British Dictionary definitions for rhythm



  1. the arrangement of the relative durations of and accents on the notes of a melody, usually laid out into regular groups (bars) of beats, the first beat of each bar carrying the stress
  2. any specific arrangement of such groupings; timequadruple rhythm
(in poetry)
  1. the arrangement of words into a more or less regular sequence of stressed and unstressed or long and short syllables
  2. any specific such arrangement; metre
(in painting, sculpture, architecture, etc) a harmonious sequence or pattern of masses alternating with voids, of light alternating with shade, of alternating colours, etc
any sequence of regularly recurring functions or events, such as the regular recurrence of certain physiological functions of the body, as the cardiac rhythm of the heartbeat
Derived Formsrhythmless, adjective

Word Origin for rhythm

C16: from Latin rhythmus, from Greek rhuthmos; related to rhein to flow
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 rhythm

1550s, "rhymed verse, metrical movement," from Latin rhythmus "movement in time," from Greek rhythmos "measured flow or movement, rhythm; proportion, symmetry; arrangement, order; form, shape, wise, manner; soul, disposition," related to rhein "to flow," from PIE root *sreu- "to flow" (see rheum). Rhythm method of birth control attested from 1936. Rhythm and blues, U.S. music style, is from 1949 (first in "Billboard").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rhythm in Medicine




Movement or variation characterized by the regular recurrence or alternation of different quantities or conditions, as in the heartbeat.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

rhythm in Culture


The “beat” of music; the regular pattern of long and short notes. Certain kinds of music, such as blues or marches, have a very characteristic rhythm. Rhythm, harmony, and melody are elements of music.

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.