adjective Music.

  1. noting those scales that contain five whole tones and two semitones, as the major, minor, and certain modal scales.
  2. of or relating to the tones, intervals, or harmonies of such scales.


  1. of, relating to, or based upon any scale of five tones and two semitones produced by playing the white keys of a keyboard instrument, esp the natural major or minor scales forming the basis of the key system in Western musicCompare chromatic (def. 2)
  2. not involving the sharpening or flattening of the notes of the major or minor scale nor the use of such notes as modified by accidentals

c.1600, from French diatonique, from Latin diatonicus, from Greek diatonikos, from diatonos “extending; pertaining to the diatonic scale,” from dia- (see dia-) + teinein “to stretch” (see tenet).

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