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First coined in 1557, from Latin rhythmus, from Ancient Greek ῥυθμός (rhuthmós, any measured flow or movement, symmetry, rhythm), from ῥέω (rhéō, I flow, run, stream, gush).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹɪð.əm/, [ˈɹɪð.m̩]
    • (file)
    • Rhymes: -ɪðəm
  • (obsolete) IPA(key): /ˈɹɪθ.əm/


rhythm (countable and uncountable, plural rhythms)

  1. The variation of strong and weak elements (such as duration, accent) of sounds, notably in speech or music, over time; a beat or meter.
    Dance to the rhythm of the music.
  2. A specifically defined pattern of such variation.
    Most dances have a rhythm as distinctive as the Iambic verse in poetry
  3. A flow, repetition or regularity.
    Once you get the rhythm of it, the job will become easy.
  4. The tempo or speed of a beat, song or repetitive event.
    We walked with a quick, even rhythm.
  5. The musical instruments which provide rhythm (mainly; not or less melody) in a musical ensemble.
    The Baroque term basso continuo is virtually equivalent to rhythm
  6. A regular quantitative change in a variable (notably natural) process.
    The rhythm of the seasons dominates agriculture as well as wildlife
  7. Controlled repetition of a phrase, incident or other element as a stylistic figure in literature and other narrative arts; the effect it creates.
    The running gag is a popular rhythm in motion pictures and theater comedy
  8. A person's natural feeling for rhythm.
    That girl's got rhythm, watch her dance!


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