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[mohd-l] /ˈmoʊd l/
of or relating to mode, manner, or form.
  1. pertaining to mode, as distinguished from key.
  2. based on a scale other than major or minor.
Also, single modal. Transportation. pertaining to or suitable for transportation involving only one form of a carrier, as truck, rail, or ship.
Compare bimodal (def 3), intermodal.
Grammar. noting or pertaining to mood.
Philosophy. pertaining to a mode of a thing, as distinguished from one of its basic attributes or from its substance or matter.
Logic. exhibiting or expressing some phase of modality.
Origin of modal
1560-70; < Medieval Latin modālis. See mode1, -al1
Related forms
modally, adverb
nonmodal, adjective
nonmodally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for modal


of, relating to, or characteristic of mode or manner
(grammar) (of a verb form or auxiliary verb) expressing a distinction of mood, such as that between possibility and actuality. The modal auxiliaries in English include can, could, may, must, need, ought, shall, should, will, and would
(philosophy, logic)
  1. qualifying or expressing a qualification of the truth of some statement, for example, as necessary or contingent
  2. relating to analogous qualifications such as that of rules as obligatory or permissive
(metaphysics) of or relating to the form of a thing as opposed to its attributes, substance, etc
(music) of or relating to a mode
of or relating to a statistical mode
Derived Forms
modally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for modal

1560s, term in logic, from Middle French modal and directly from Medieval Latin modalis "of or pertaining to a mode," from Latin modus "measure, manner, mode" (see mode (n.1)). Musical sense is from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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modal in Technology

1. (Of an interface) Having modes. Modeless interfaces are generally considered to be superior because the user does not have to remember which mode he is in.
2. See modal logic.
3. In MS Windows programming, A window with the label "WS_MODAL" will stay on the screen and claim all the user-input. Other windows can only be accessed if the MODAL window is closed. Such a window would typically be used for an error dialog box to warn the user for something important, like "Critical error, shut down the system and restart".

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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