• synonyms


or plain song

[pleyn-sawng, -song]
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  1. the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times.
  2. modal liturgical music; Gregorian chant.
  3. a cantus firmus or theme chosen for contrapuntal development.
  4. any simple and unadorned melody or air.

Origin of plainsong

1505–15; translation of Medieval Latin cantus plānus
Also called plainchant (for defs 1, 2).
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for plain-song

Historical Examples

  • No, it was the simple strains of the plain-song that they knew, understood and loved.

    A Short History of English Music

    Ernest Ford

  • First, that in the Plain-song period, words and music seem pretty equal and well matched.

  • It may be beautiful in secular music, but it is null and void when it attempts the venerable sequences of plain-song.

    The Cathedral

    Joris-Karl Huysmans

  • When opposed to plain-song, it meant counter-point as distinguished from mere melody.

  • A plain-song by Alexander Reinagle is used by some congregations, but is not remarkably expressive.

    The Story of the Hymns and Tunes</p>

    Theron Brown and Hezekiah Butterworth

British Dictionary definitions for plain-song


  1. the style of unison unaccompanied vocal music used in the medieval Church, esp in Gregorian chantAlso called: plainchant

Word Origin

C16: translation of Medieval Latin cantus plānus
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

Word Origin and History for plain-song


also plainsong, plain-song, 1510s, translating Latin cantus planus, French plain chant.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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