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Definition of "crescendo" [cres•cen•do]

  • Music A gradual increase, especially in the volume or intensity of sound in a passage. (noun)
  • Music A passage played with a gradual increase in volume or intensity. (noun)
  • A steady increase in intensity or force: "insisted [that] all paragraphs ... should be structured as a crescendo rising to a climactic last sentence” ( Henry A. Kissinger). (noun)
  • Usage Problem The climactic point or moment after such a progression: "The attacks ... began in December ... and reached a crescendo during [the president's] September visit” ( Foreign Affairs). (noun)
  • Gradually increasing in volume, force, or intensity. (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "crescendo" in a sentence
  • "But credit continued to tighten, reaching a short-term crescendo with the near-death of Bear Stearns."
  • "With a quick jerk, cataleptically, his nose pointed to the zenith, his mouth opened, and a flood of sound poured forth, running swiftly upward in crescendo and slowly falling as it died away."
  • "The crescendo is his speech at the U.N. The challenge for us is to listen closely to what he is says on Friday, and thereafter, armed with facts and history, to call-out him and other leaders when their words and actions actually jeopardize the calls for peace in which they so comfortably cloak themselves."