Definition of fugue in English:



  • 1Music
    A contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase (the subject) is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others and developed by interweaving the parts.

    • ‘Organ fugues, orchestral overtures and jazz favourites are united with pop hits, movie themes and folk tunes.’
    • ‘I envisage this as a three-part fugue within the boundaries of a three part invention.’
    • ‘The following evening the King added a request for a six-part fugue by Bach on his theme.’
    • ‘There are three solo pieces and a three-part fugue for clarinet, violin and cello.’
    • ‘Even though he had never even written a six-part fugue for keyboard, Bach immediately demurred.’
  • 2Psychiatry
    A loss of awareness of one's identity, often coupled with flight from one's usual environment, associated with certain forms of hysteria and epilepsy.

    • ‘Discussions of psychogenic fugue in standard psychiatric references offer suggestions of sodium amobarbital interviews or hypnosis.’
    • ‘I keep thinking I'm having fugue states, but I'm just dozing off.’
    • ‘Obviously, I thought it possible that Alex was in some form of fugue state.’
    • ‘In a few cases a person entered a fugue state where he would ‘come to’ far from his quarters with no memory of how he got there.’
    • ‘He'd heard about people in fugue states that black out of reality and do thing in a dream like state.’


Late 16th century: from French, or from Italian fuga, from Latin fuga ‘flight’, related to fugere ‘flee’.