[ pley-guhl ]

  1. (of a Gregorian mode) having the final in the middle of the compass.: Compare authentic (def. 6a).

Origin of plagal

1590–1600; <Medieval Latin plagālis, equivalent to plag(a) plagal mode (apparently back formation from plagius plagal; see plage) + -ālis-al1

Words Nearby plagal Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use plagal in a sentence

  • After all, BTS’s supersmash “Butter,” which hit the top of the charts in June, also uses mixolydian, while Billie Eilish slips the double plagal cadence into her new song “Getting Older.”

    Why Lorde’s Solar Power Is a Pop Oddity | Andrew R. Chow | August 23, 2021 | Time
  • These enharmonic passages recur to satiety, and the abuse of the plagal cadence deprives it of its religious solemnity.

  • Thus the melody itself was said to be either authentic or plagal, according to whether it had one or two tonics.

  • The theme of Schumann's “Etudes symphoniques” is authentic, and the first variation is plagal.

  • The plagal Cadence (A-men chord) at the end of the piece has been transcribed as breves instead of semibreves for authenticity.

    Sixty Years a Queen | Sir Herbert Maxwell

British Dictionary definitions for plagal


/ (ˈpleɪɡəl) /

  1. (of a cadence) progressing from the subdominant to the tonic chord, as in the Amen of a hymn

  2. (of a mode) commencing upon the dominant of an authentic mode, but sharing the same final as the authentic mode. Plagal modes are designated by the prefix Hypo- before the name of their authentic counterparts: the Hypodorian mode

Origin of plagal

C16: from Medieval Latin plagālis, from plaga, perhaps from Greek plagos side

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