[ tem-per-uh ]
/ ˈtɛm pər ə /


a technique of painting in which an emulsion consisting of water and pure egg yolk or a mixture of egg and oil is used as a binder or medium, characterized by its lean film-forming properties and rapid drying rate.
a painting executed in this technique.
a water paint used in this technique in which the egg-water or egg-oil emulsion is used as a binder.Compare distemper2(defs 1, 2).

Origin of tempera

1825–35; < Italian, short for (pingere a) tempera (painting in) distemper, derivative of temperare to mingle, temper; see temper
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tempera

British Dictionary definitions for tempera


/ (ˈtɛmpərə) /


a painting medium for powdered pigments, consisting usually of egg yolk and water
  1. any emulsion used as a painting medium, with casein, glue, wax, etc, as a base
  2. the paint made from mixing this with pigment
the technique of painting with tempera

Word Origin for tempera

C19: from Italian phrase pingere a tempera painting in tempera, from temperare to mingle; see temper
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