I found some examples online.

Single White Female

“You shared your good news,” she said, “I thought I might share my bad—tempered with some good news, though.”

Some parents are monsters, not saints

"Love your parents" might be a good message sometimes. But it has to be tempered with an understanding that not all parents deserve that love.

  • Did you check a dictionary for the definition of "temper"? When I checked it looked pretty straightforward what meaning was intended, but if you still find it confusing, you can edit to add what you found in the dictionary. – Laurel Oct 29 '18 at 3:24
  • @Laurel Yes. I checked it. But it seemed no good fit. I even posted this question to a English-Chinese subtitle translation chat group, caused some arguments. Unbelieve, right? XD Somesone said bad-temper is a word, the bad temper messed up the good news. I think that is obviously wrong. – Zhang Oct 29 '18 at 3:31
  • 2
    The appropriate sense of temper for your usage is "to dilute, qualify, or soften by the addition or influence of something else : MODERATE // temper justice with mercy." If that still doesn't make sense, please explain what part is confusing. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Oct 29 '18 at 3:36

It means

Act as a neutralizing or counterbalancing force to (something)

Its synonyms are to modify or to moderate.

Example sentence:

Their idealism is tempered with realism.


Laurel is broadly right, but there is a peculiarity in your first example that I can see would make it confusing. It’s that em-dash between “bad” and “tempered”, giving bad—tempered. Because it’s a dash, it leaves the two words separate. The “bad” means “bad news”, in reference to the earlier mention of good news. And so the “tempered” stands on its own and is a verb, meaning to balance, or moderate, or dilute, etc. But if the reader mistakes the dash for a hyphen, then we get the adjective, “bad-tempered”, meaning grumpy, or annoyed, or mildly angry (and which breaks the sentence and makes no sense).

Given all that, the intended meaning here, of “tempered with” is “balanced with”, or “moderated with”, and so on. In other words, the speaker is saying that they are going to do something to compensate for some possible imbalance created by something else.

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