\ 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 fugue (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 Famous for his improvisations, Dupré could toss off a flawless fugue on a theme handed him just beforehand. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 19 Apr. 2021 Jacobs danced with the instrument, his playful approach never clearer than the fast final fugue of J.S. Bach's transcription of an Antonio Vivaldi concerto. Rob Hubbard, Star Tribune, 14 Apr. 2021 Years earlier, Elena fell into a possible fugue state and has no memory of six months of her life. Washington Post, 11 Mar. 2021 The Simpsons, Snoopy and the Smurfs are all here, floating through a fugue state that refuses to lift. New York Times, 24 Feb. 2021 Is Behind Her Eyes also like living in a fugue state, disassociating from one’s physical and mental environments? Rose Maura Lorre, Vulture, 18 Feb. 2021 To him, the ubiquitous paradigms of noun-endings (declensions) and verb-endings (conjugations) possessed all the crystalline beauty of a Bach fugue. Margalit Fox, New York Times, 27 Dec. 2020 Reflexively moderate and deferential to the status quo, Biden as recently as last year expressed the wistful belief that Republican senators had been trapped in a sort of fugue state under Obama and, later, under Trump. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 12 Nov. 2020 But when my daughter arrived, my free time evaporated in a manic fugue of playdates, pediatrician visits, and the competitive adulting of Brooklyn parenthood. Tom Vanderbilt, Wired, 19 Oct. 2020

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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Statistics for fugue

Last Updated

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fugue.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fugue. Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for fugue



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

More from Merriam-Webster on fugue

Nglish: Translation of fugue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fugue


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