late Old English temprian "to moderate, bring to a proper or suitable state, to modify some excessive quality, to restrain within due limits," from Latin temperare "observe proper measure, be moderate, restrain oneself," also transitive, "mix correctly, mix in due proportion; regulate, rule, govern, manage." This is often described as from Latin tempus "time, season" (see temporal), with a sense of "proper time or season." But as the root sense of tempus seems to be "stretch," the words in the "restrain, modify" sense might be from a semantic shift from "stretching" to "measuring" (compare temple (n.1)). Meaning "to make (steel) hard and elastic" is from late 14c. Sense of "tune the pitch of a musical instrument" is recorded from c. 1300. Related: Tempered; tempering.