having a temper or disposition of a specified character (usually used in combination): a good-tempered child.
Music. tuned in accordance with some other temperament than just or pure temperament, especially tuned in equal temperament.
made less intense or violent, especially by the influence of something good or benign: justice tempered with mercy.
properly moistened or mixed, as clay.
Metallurgy. of or relating to steel or cast iron that has been tempered.

Origin of tempered

Middle English word dating back to 1325–75; see origin at temper, -ed2, -ed3
Related formsnon·tem·pered, adjectiveun·tem·pered, adjective




a particular state of mind or feelings.
habit of mind, especially with respect to irritability or patience, outbursts of anger, or the like; disposition: an even temper.
heat of mind or passion, shown in outbursts of anger, resentment, etc.
calm disposition or state of mind: to be out of temper.
a substance added to something to modify its properties or qualities.
  1. the degree of hardness and strength imparted to a metal, as by quenching, heat treatment, or cold working.
  2. the percentage of carbon in tool steel.
  3. the operation of tempering.
Archaic. a middle course; compromise.
Obsolete. the constitution or character of a substance.

verb (used with object)

to moderate or mitigate: to temper justice with mercy.
to soften or tone down.
to bring to a proper, suitable, or desirable state by or as by blending or admixture.
to moisten, mix, and work up into proper consistency, as clay or mortar.
Metallurgy. to impart strength or toughness to (steel or cast iron) by heating and cooling.
to produce internal stresses in (glass) by sudden cooling from low red heat; toughen.
to tune (a keyboard instrument, as a piano, organ, or harpsichord) so as to make the tones available in different keys or tonalities.
to modify (color) by mixing with a medium.
Archaic. to combine or blend in due proportions.
Archaic. to pacify.

verb (used without object)

to be or become tempered.

Origin of temper

before 1000; (v.) Middle English tempren, Old English temprian < Latin temperāre to divide or proportion duly, temper; (noun) Middle English: proportion, derivative of the v.
Related formstem·per·a·ble, adjectivetem·per·a·bil·i·ty, nountem·per·er, nounnon·tem·per·a·ble, adjectivere·tem·per, verb (used with object)un·tem·per·a·ble, adjectiveun·tem·per·ing, adjective

Synonyms for temper

Synonym study

1. See disposition. 10. See modify.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tempered

Contemporary Examples of tempered

Historical Examples of tempered

  • It came from the furnace of the Revolution, tempered to the necessities of the times.

  • They are not necessary; they might be avoided; at their worst they could be tempered.

  • His dismissal from the staff was a wise move, tempered by unexpected clemency.


    W. A. Fraser

  • "I don't care who hears me," Adams said, harshly, though he tempered his loudness.

    Alice Adams

    Booth Tarkington

  • It was a hot morning in June, tempered by a wind from the north-west.

    Salted With Fire

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for tempered



  1. (of a scale) having the frequency differences between notes adjusted in accordance with the system of equal temperamentSee temperament
  2. (of an interval) expanded or contracted from the state of being pure
(in combination) having a temper or temperament as specifiedill-tempered



a frame of mind; mood or humoura good temper
a sudden outburst of anger; tantrum
a tendency to exhibit uncontrolled anger; irritability
a mental condition of moderation and calm (esp in the phrases keep one's temper, lose one's temper, out of temper)
the degree of hardness, elasticity, or a similar property of a metal or metal object

verb (tr)

to make more temperate, acceptable, or suitable by adding something else; moderatehe tempered his criticism with kindly sympathy
to strengthen or toughen (a metal or metal article) by heat treatment, as by heating and quenching
  1. to adjust the frequency differences between the notes of a scale on (a keyboard instrument) in order to allow modulation into other keys
  2. to make such an adjustment to the pitches of notes in (a scale)
a rare word for adapt
an archaic word for mix
Derived Formstemperable, adjectivetemperability, nountemperer, noun

Word Origin for temper

Old English temprian to mingle, (influenced by Old French temprer), from Latin temperāre to mix, probably from tempus time
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 tempered



late 14c., "due proportion of elements or qualities," from temper (v.). The sense of "characteristic state of mind" is first recorded 1590s; that of "calm state of mind" in c.1600; and that of "angry state of mind" (for bad temper) in 1828. Meaning "degree of hardness and resiliency in steel" is from late 15c.



late Old English temprian "to bring to a proper or suitable state, to modify some excessive quality, to restrain within due limits," from Latin temperare "to mix correctly, moderate, regulate, blend," usually described as from tempus "time, season" (see temporal), with a sense of "proper time or season," but the sense history is obscure. Meaning "to make (steel) hard and elastic" is from late 14c. Sense of "to tune the pitch of a musical instrument" is recorded from c.1300. Related: Tempered; tempering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tempered in Medicine




A state of mind or emotions; mood.
A tendency to become easily angry or irritable.
An outburst of rage.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with tempered


see hold one's temper; lose one's temper.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.