I. transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English & Anglo-French; Old English temprian & Anglo-French temprer, from Latin temperare to moderate, mix, temper; probably akin to Latin tempor-, tempus time
Date: before 12th century
1. to dilute, qualify, or soften by the addition or influence of something else ; moderate <temper justice with mercy> 2. archaic a. to exercise control over ; govern, restrain b. to cause to be well disposed ; mollify <tempered and reconciled them both — Richard Steele> 3. to bring to a suitable state by mixing in or adding a usually liquid ingredient: as a. to mix (clay) with water or a modifier (as grog) and knead to a uniform texture b. to mix oil with (colors) in making paint ready for use 4. a. (1) to soften (as hardened steel or cast iron) by reheating at a lower temperature (2) to harden (as steel) by reheating and cooling in oil b. to anneal or toughen (glass) by a process of gradually heating and cooling 5. to make stronger and more resilient through hardship ; toughen <troops tempered in battle> 6. a. to put in tune with something ; attune b. to adjust the pitch of (a note, chord, or instrument) to a temperament • temperable adjective • temperer noun II. noun Date: 14th century 1. a. archaic a suitable proportion or balance of qualities ; a middle state between extremes ; mean, medium <virtue is…a just temper between propensities — T. B. Macaulay> b. archaic character, quality <the temper of the land you design to sow — John Mortimer> c. characteristic tone ; trend <the temper of the times> d. high quality of mind or spirit ; courage 2. a. the state of a substance with respect to certain desired qualities (as hardness, elasticity, or workability); especially the degree of hardness or resiliency given steel by tempering b. the feel and relative solidity of leather 3. a. a characteristic cast of mind or state of feeling ; disposition b. calmness of mind ; composure c. state of feeling or frame of mind at a particular time usually dominated by a single strong emotion d. heat of mind or emotion ; proneness to anger ; passion <she has a real temper> 4. a substance (as a metal) added to or mixed with something else (as another metal) to modify the properties of the latter Synonyms: see disposition
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.