Tamper vs temper

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Tamper and temper are two words that are similar in spelling and pronunciation but have very different definitions. We will examine the meanings of the words tamper and temper, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Tamper means to meddle with, to interfere with, to alter without prior authorization. Tamper is an intransitive verb, which is a verb that does not take an object. Tamper is usually joined with the word with, as in tamper with, tampers with, tampered with, tampering with. The word tamper is a fifteenth century variant of the word temper.

As a verb, temper may mean to subject metal to a series of heatings and coolings in order to strengthen the material. Temper may also mean to reduce the intensity of something, usually by diluting it with another substance. Temper is sometimes used to mean to tune the musical intervals of an instrument. Temper is also used metaphorically to mean to soften the influence of something. Temper, when used as a noun, means a person’s state of mind at a certain time, or a person’s feeling of anger or tendency to anger quickly. Related words are tempers, tempered, tempering. The word temper is derived from the Latin word temperare which means to restrain or moderate.


A federal judge will weigh whether to jail former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort while he awaits trial after prosecutors accused him of making several attempts to tamper with witnesses in his criminal case. (U.S. News & World Report)

The international backlash following Australia captain Steve Smith’s confession to cheating during the third test against South Africa last weekend defies the fact that ball-tampering is about as old as the game of cricket itself. (The Hindustan Times)

Acts of violence have eased, but tempers still flare regularly among the unattached youth in the sometimes volatile central Kingston community of ‘Southside’, and long-time resident ‘Mega’ wants this addressed through conflict-resolution seminars. (The Jamaica Gleaner)

Mattis also sought to temper expectations for the summit’s results, describing a slow and deliberate process of change. (Finger Lakes Times)