[pley-guh l]

adjective Music.

(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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for plagal

Historical Examples of plagal

  • These modes are divided into two classes—the “authentic” and “plagal.”

  • A plagal cadence is one in which the tonic chord is preceded by the sub-dominant chord (IV—I).

  • 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

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for plagal



(of a cadence) progressing from the subdominant to the tonic chord, as in the Amen of a hymn
(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 counterpartsthe Hypodorian mode

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for plagal

1590s, from Medieval Latin plagalis, from plaga "the plagal mode," probably from plagius, from Medieval Greek plagius "plagal," in classical Greek "oblique," from plagos "side" (see plagio-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper