The following is the excerpt from Obama's inaugural speech. What does the word, 'tempering' evades me. I look it up in the dictionary, to no avail. What does it mean in the context?

They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

1 Answer 1


Google Dictionary says:

act as a neutralizing or counterbalancing force to (something).

"their idealism is tempered with realism"

synonyms: moderate, modify, modulate; tone down, mitigate, palliate, alleviate, allay, assuage, lessen, reduce, weaken, lighten, soften, cushion; qualify

The noun originally denoted a proportionate mixture of elements or qualities, also the combination of the four bodily humours, believed in medieval times to be the basis of temperament.

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