cantus firmus


cantus fir·​mus -ˈfir-məs How to pronounce cantus firmus (audio)
: the plainsong or simple Gregorian melody originally sung in unison and prescribed as to form and use by ecclesiastical tradition
: a melodic theme or subject
especially : one for contrapuntal treatment

Word History


Medieval Latin, literally, fixed song

First Known Use

1761, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cantus firmus was in 1761

Dictionary Entries Near cantus firmus

Cite this Entry

“Cantus firmus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

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