\ ˈfyüg How to pronounce fugue (audio) \

Definition of fugue

1a : a musical composition in which one or two themes are repeated or imitated by successively entering voices and contrapuntally developed in a continuous interweaving of the voice parts The organist played a four-voiced fugue.
b : something that resembles a fugue especially in interweaving repetitive elements a story that … is as rich and multilayered as a fugue— Heather Vogel Frederick
2 : a disturbed state of consciousness in which the one affected seems to perform acts in full awareness but upon recovery cannot recollect the acts performed

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Other Words from fugue

fugue verb
fuguist \ ˈfyü-​gist How to pronounce fuguist (audio) \ noun

Fugue and Bach

Bach and Handel composed many fugues for harpsichord and organ in which the various parts (or voices) seem to flee from and chase each other in an intricate dance. Each part, after it has stated the theme or melody, apparently flees from the next part, which takes up the same theme and sets off in pursuit. Simple rounds such as "Three Blind Mice" or "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" could be called fugues for children, but a true fugue can be long and extremely complex.

Examples of fugue in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Saturated washes whorl into psychedelic compositions, as if seen through a fugue state. Max Lakin, New York Times, "It Was Their Big Debut. Then a Pandemic Hit.," 17 Mar. 2020 Flavin Judd, the artist’s son, has compared it to a Bach fugue. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Donald Judd’s Plain-Spoken Masterpiece," 26 Mar. 2020 Leading an orchestra with considerably more strings than Mozart was accustomed to, Zander gave admirable clarity to the opera buffa fugue sections and propulsion to the whole. BostonGlobe.com, "For Boston Philharmonic, a satisfying start to the 2019-20 season - The Boston Globe," 19 Oct. 2019 Meanwhile, Ferrell’s Pete wanders around in a befuddled fugue, failing to understand why his wife could be so angry with him. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Downhill Is an Uphill Slog That Doesn't Justify Its Remake of the Darker, Subtler Force Majeure," 14 Feb. 2020 The finale, with one fugue that peters out before another starts up, is particularly difficult to hold together, but Zander never lost the thread. BostonGlobe.com, "For Boston Philharmonic, a satisfying start to the 2019-20 season - The Boston Globe," 19 Oct. 2019 After visiting my extended family in Honolulu over the summer, I was slapped out of that subpar-poke fugue state. Elyse Inamine, Bon Appétit, "I Repent of All the Fast-Casual Poke Bowls I’ve Eaten After Going to Ahi Assassins," 15 Jan. 2020 The piece offered many charming moments (the fugue at the breakfast table rose to a delightful roar) but maybe there were simply too many moments. BostonGlobe.com, "Tanglewood performance with Leonidas Kavakos," 28 Sep. 2019 Justin Ellington’s sensational sound design is almost another haunted voice in the fugue. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Heroes of the Fourth Turning,’ a Red-State Unicorn," 7 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fugue.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fugue

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for fugue

probably from Italian fuga flight, fugue, from Latin, flight, from fugere

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Time Traveler for fugue

Time Traveler

The first known use of fugue was in 1597

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Statistics for fugue

Last Updated

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fugue.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fugue. Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for fugue


How to pronounce fugue (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fugue

: a piece of music in which tunes are repeated in complex patterns


\ ˈfyüg How to pronounce fugue (audio) \

Medical Definition of fugue

: a disturbed state of consciousness in which the one affected seems to perform acts in full awareness but upon recovery cannot recollect them

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More from Merriam-Webster on fugue

Spanish Central: Translation of fugue

Nglish: Translation of fugue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fugue

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