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used in a sentence
3 meanings
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1  —as in:
bad news tempered by kindness
Definition made less extreme
  • Her criticism was tempered with kindly sympathy.
tempered = made less extreme
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • The loss she felt when her husband died is tempered by the joy of her new grandchild.
  • tempered = made less extreme
  • Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
    John F. Kennedy  --  Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You
  • There was gladness and mirth and peace everywhere, for we were at rest ourselves on one account, and we were glad, though it was with a tempered joy.
    Bram Stoker  --  Dracula
  • tempered = made less extreme
  • ...speaking in an authoritative voice, although tempered with respect towards the youthful clergyman whom he addressed:
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The Scarlet Letter
  • tempered = made less extreme
  • And when Squealer went on to give further graphic details of Boxer's death-bed, the admirable care he had received, and the expensive medicines for which Napoleon had paid without a thought as to the cost, their last doubts disappeared and the sorrow that they felt for their comrade's death was tempered by the thought that at least he had died happy.
    George Orwell  --  Animal Farm
  • tempered = made less extreme
  • The mother's impassioned state had been the medium through which were transmitted to the unborn infant the rays of its moral life; and, however white and clear originally, they had taken the deep stains of crimson and gold, the fiery lustre, the black shadow, and the untempered light of the intervening substance.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The Scarlet Letter
  • untempered = not made less extreme
    (Editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in untempered means not and reverses the meaning of tempered. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
  • He was not ill-fitted to be the head and representative of a community which owed its origin and progress, and its present state of development, not to the impulses of youth, but to the stern and tempered energies of manhood and the sombre sagacity of age; accomplishing so much, precisely because it imagined and hoped so little.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The Scarlet Letter
tempered = made less extreme

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list —®
2  —as in:
tempered steel
Definition made stronger or more flexible by heat treatment — often of steel or glass
  • The sword is made of tempered steel.
tempered = made stronger or more flexible by heat treatment
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • They found a tempered pick axe in Galilee, dating from around 1000 to 1100 BCE.
  • tempered = made stronger by heat treatment
  • Tempered glass is also called safety glass because, in addition to being stronger, when it shatters it breaks into small beads instead of long sharp shards.
  • tempered = made stronger or more flexible by heat treatment
  • But I know now there's one thing you've all overlooked: intelligence and education that hasn't been tempered by human affection isn't worth a damn.
    Daniel Keyes  --  Flowers for Algernon — Novel
  • tempered = made stronger or more flexible
  • Not good because it was handsome, but because it was itself, like fine metal, tempered and beaten for strength.
    Madeline Miller  --  Circe
  • tempered = made stronger or less brittle by heat treatment
  • Conscious of his own infirmity—that his tempered steel and elasticity are lost—he for ever afterwards looks wistfully about him in quest of support external to himself.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The Scarlet Letter
  • tempered = strong
  • It was a complete set, made of specially tempered steel, the latest designs in drills, punches, braces and bits, jimmies, clamps, and augers, with two or three novelties, invented by Jimmy himself, in which he took pride.
    O. Henry  --  A Retrieved Reformation
  • Proud Agamemnon, leader of the host, brittle as badly tempered iron.
    Madeline Miller  --  Circe
tempered = made stronger or more flexible by heat treatment

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list —®
3  —as in:
Definition having a typical mood or temperament — often in reference to how easily one is angered
  • She is patient and even-tempered.
tempered = not easily angered or upset
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • Nobody wants to work with her because she is bad-tempered.
  • tempered = easily angered or annoyed
  • And to have a house full of children I think I'm pretty even tempered.
    Kaye Gibbons  --  Ellen Foster
  • even tempered = not easily angered or upset
  • She thought he was really good-tempered, and could fancy his entering into a plan of that sort most pleasantly.
    Jane Austen  --  Mansfield Park
  • tempered = typical mood
  • And that ugly tempered lady, old Mistress Hibbins, was one.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The Scarlet Letter
  • tempered = typical mood
  •   Thou hast amazed me. By my holy order,
      I thought thy disposition better tempered.
    William Shakespeare  --  Romeo and Juliet
  • tempered = typical mood or way of behaving
  • He was always ill-tempered when the sun was high.
    Madeline Miller  --  Circe
  • ill-tempered = rude or easily made angry
  • Benjamin was the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered.
    George Orwell  --  Animal Farm
  • tempered = having a tendency to get angry
  • By 1932, the modest, mild-tempered Cunningham, whose legs and back were covered in a twisting mesh of scars, was becoming a national sensation, soon to be acclaimed as the greatest miler in American history.
    Laura Hillenbrand  --  Unbroken
  • tempered = typical mood or way of behaving
  • Some distance separated the bulls from each other, for they are bad-tempered, very jealous by nature and quick to fight over anything that displeases them.
    Scott O'Dell  --  Island of the Blue Dolphins
bad-tempered = tending to get angry or annoyed easily

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list —®
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