[ mohd-l ]

  1. of or relating to mode, manner, or form.

  2. Music.

    • relating to mode, as distinguished from key.

    • based on a scale other than major or minor.

  1. Also single modal. Transportation. relating to or suitable for transportation involving only one form of a carrier, such as truck, rail, or ship.: Compare bimodal (def. 3), intermodal.

  2. Grammar. being or relating to mood.

  3. Philosophy. relating to a mode of a thing, as distinguished from one of its basic attributes or from its substance or matter.

  4. Statistics. relating to the mode, the value that occurs most frequently in a particular data set, population, etc.

  5. Logic. exhibiting or expressing some phase of modality.

  1. Grammar. modal auxiliary.

Origin of modal

First recorded in 1560–70; from Medieval Latin modālis; equivalent to mode1 + -al1

Other words from modal

  • mod·al·ly, adverb
  • non·mod·al, adjective
  • non·mod·al·ly, adverb

Words Nearby modal

Other definitions for modal (2 of 2)

[ moh-dol, mohd-l ]

  1. a type of rayon made from the pulp of hardwood trees, especially beech.

Origin of modal

First recorded in 1975–80; from Serbo-Croatian; equivalent to mod(ulus) + -al1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use modal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for modal


/ (ˈməʊdəl) /

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of mode or manner

  2. 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

  1. philosophy logic

    • qualifying or expressing a qualification of the truth of some statement, for example, as necessary or contingent

    • relating to analogous qualifications such as that of rules as obligatory or permissive

  2. metaphysics of or relating to the form of a thing as opposed to its attributes, substance, etc

  3. music of or relating to a mode

  4. of or relating to a statistical mode

Derived forms of modal

  • 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