1. a subtle or elaborate argument or point of debate, usually on a theological or scholastic subject.
  2. Music. a humorous composition consisting of two or more independent and harmonically complementary melodies, usually quotations of well-known tunes, played or sung together, usually to different texts, in a polyphonic arrangement.

Origin of quodlibet

1350–1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin quodlibetum; compare Latin quod libet what pleases, as you please
Related formsquod·li·bet·ic, quod·li·bet·i·cal, adjectivequod·li·bet·i·cl·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for quodlibet

Historical Examples of quodlibet

  • The climax was reached in the quodlibet, when all joined in a sort of comic chorus.

    Sebastian Bach

    Reginald Lane Poole

  • Sebastian Bach—The clan feeling—A sixteenth century quodlibet.


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams

  • The old family seat of the Flams is about two miles from Quodlibet.


    John P. Kennedy

  • A change had also taken place in the business affairs of Quodlibet.


    John P. Kennedy

  • Every one in Quodlibet supposed that this stroke of the procession settled the matter.


    John P. Kennedy

British Dictionary definitions for quodlibet


  1. a light piece of music based on two or more popular tunes
  2. a subtle argument, esp one prepared as an exercise on a theological topic
Derived Formsquodlibetical, adjectivequodlibetically, adverb

Word Origin for quodlibet

C14: from Latin, from quod what + libet pleases, that is, whatever you like
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 quodlibet

"a nicety, subtlety," late 14c., Latin, literally "what you will, what you please," from quod "what," neuter of qui (see who) + libet "it pleases" (see love (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper