from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Music A gradual increase, especially in the volume or intensity of sound in a passage.
  • n. Music A passage played with a gradual increase in volume or intensity.
  • n. 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).
  • n. 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).
  • adj. Gradually increasing in volume, force, or intensity.
  • adv. Music With a crescendo.
  • intransitive v. To build up to or reach a point of great intensity, force, or volume: "The designer-name craze crescendoed in the mid-seventies” ( Bernice Kanner).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An instruction to play gradually more loudly, denoted by a long, narrow angle with its apex on the left ( < ).
  • n. A gradual increase of anything, especially to a dramatic climax.
  • n. The climax of a gradual increase.
  • v. To increase in intensity, to reach or head for a crescendo.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • With a constantly increasing volume of voice; with gradually increasing strength and fullness of tone; -- a direction for the performance of music, indicated by the mark, or by writing the word on the score.
  • n. A gradual increase in the strength and fullness of tone with which a passage is performed.
  • n. A passage to be performed with constantly increasing volume of tone.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In music, gradually increasing in force or loudness; swelling. Often abbreviated to cres. or cresc., or represented by the character .
  • The swell pedal.
  • n. A passage characterized by increase of force.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. gradually increasing in volume
  • n. (music) a gradual increase in loudness
  • v. grow louder


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Italian, present participle of crescere, to increase, from Latin crēscere.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Borrowing from Italian crescendo, gerund of crescere ("to grow, to increase")


  • But credit continued to tighten, reaching a short-term crescendo with the near-death of Bear Stearns.

    Libor Is Down, but Don't Put Stock in That

  • 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.

    Chapter 22

  • 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.

    Joe Cutbirth: The Discussion Ratzinger's Trip is Designed to Stop

  • Although Comrade Chief-of-Staff's passing shielded him from all this, it regrettably also denied him from experiencing the magnificent consequences of his demise: that is, the crescendo, the final revolutionary push to victory - all unleashed by the manner of his death on that fateful April morning.


  • A crescendo is a getting louder, and it may be a getting louder from very soft to not-so-soft or from moderately loud to very loud, but it is a process.

    Italian: The Language That Sings

  • But right then, when that was happening, the threats were coming in, and it's been described as a crescendo and hair on fire and all these different things.

    CNN Transcript Apr 8, 2004

  • My way of showing Amsterdam was to work slowly up to a grand crescendo effect; and the crescendo was the Ryks Museum.

    The Chauffeur and the Chaperon

  • Most chapters also have what is known as a crescendo event, where the players must fight off the zombie horde massing upon them for a set amount of time before they can move on, normally after using something to make a path to move forward in the chapter (an early example is waiting for an elevator to arrive).

  • No one died in the accident and official reports commissioned by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and US government agencies concluded that the escaping radiation had little impact on public health -- arguments that are still put forward today as calls crescendo for a nuclear renaissance.

    Raw Story

  • In music, a crescendo is a gradual volume increase, and a decrescendo is a gradual volume decrease.



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  • *hiding from oroboros' wrath*

    October 9, 2007

  • A process of increasing intensity, NOT the climax of same!

    October 9, 2007