Share this entry

plainsong Line breaks: plain|song
Pronunciation: /ˈpleɪnsɒŋ/

Definition of plainsong in English:


[mass noun]
Unaccompanied church music sung in unison in medieval modes and in free rhythm corresponding to the accentuation of the words, which are taken from the liturgy. Compare with Gregorian chant.
Example sentences
  • Melody, harmony, and rhythm became as important to music as plainsong and counterpoint, and the arts of ornamentation and virtuoso extemporization thrived among the virginalists, and among the lute and consort players.
  • It's one of the sections of the Ordinary of the Mass which the congregation needs to join in: often in the Catholic church they sing it to traditional plainsong.
  • If you have no stomach for plainsong and church polyphony, steer clear of this recording.


Late Middle English: translating Latin cantus planus.

Words that rhyme with plainsong

evensong • singsong

Definition of plainsong in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources