quod·​li·​bet | \ ˈkwäd-lə-ˌbet How to pronounce quodlibet (audio) \

Definition of quodlibet

1 : a philosophical or theological point proposed for disputation also : a disputation on such a point
2 : a whimsical combination of familiar melodies or texts

The Origin of Quodlibet

"Whatever." Try to get philosophical nowadays and that may be the response you hear. We don't know if someone quibbling over a minor philosophical or theological point 600 years ago might have gotten a similar reaction, but we do know that Latin quodlibet, meaning "any whatever," was the name given to such academic debates. Quodlibet is a form of quilibet, from qui, meaning "what," and libet, meaning "it pleases." We can't say with certainty how quodlibet went from disputations to musical conglomerations, but English speakers have been using quodlibet for light musical mélanges since the early 19th century.

First Known Use of quodlibet

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for quodlibet

Middle English, from Medieval Latin quodlibetum, from Latin quodlibet, neuter of quilibet any whatever, from qui who, what + libet it pleases, from libēre to please — more at who, love

Learn More About quodlibet

Time Traveler for quodlibet

Time Traveler

The first known use of quodlibet was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About quodlibet

Dictionary Entries Near quodlibet

quod erat faciendum



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for quodlibet

Cite this Entry

“Quodlibet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quodlibet. Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on quodlibet

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about quodlibet


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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