• synonyms


or plain song

[pleyn-sawng, -song]
  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.
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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

    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
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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper