binary form


Definition of binary form

: a two-part musical form in which the first part modulates to the dominant or relative minor and the second returns to the tonic In binary form, the opening melody returns in a key other than the tonic or does not return at all.— John A. Rice, Antonio Salieri and Viennese Opera, 1998 In music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, dances were often written in binary form; and in the collections of idealized dances … that became popular in the Baroque, binary form was increasingly used. — Stanley Sadie and Alison Latham, editors, The Cambridge Music Guide, 1985

called also song form, two-part form

— compare rounded binary form, ternary form

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

First Known Use of binary form

1875, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about binary form

Time Traveler for binary form

Time Traveler

The first known use of binary form was in 1875

See more words from the same year

Statistics for binary form

Cite this Entry

“Binary form.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

Comments on binary form

What made you want to look up binary form? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!