Dulcimer meaning

dŭl'sə-mər
A narrow, often hourglass-shaped stringed instrument having three or four strings and a fretted fingerboard, typically held flat across the knees while sitting and played by plucking or strumming.
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The hammered dulcimer.
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A zither having a usually trapezoidal shape and a number of metal strings, which are struck with two small hammers by the player.
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A zither of the S Appalachians, often long and hourglass-shaped, played on the lap or a table by plucking with a wooden plectrum or goose quill.
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A musical instrument, variously interpreted to be a harp, bagpipe, etc.: see Dan. 3:5
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(music) A stringed instrument, with strings stretched across a sounding board, usually trapezoidal. It's played on the lap or horizontally on a table. Some have their own legs. These musical instruments are played by plucking on the strings (traditionally with a quill) or by tapping on them (in the case of the hammer dulcimers).

The two classes of dulcimer are the "Mountain" or "Appalacian" dulcimer (plucked and played with a quill, usually a goose quill) and the hammer dulcimer (played by tapping on the strings with small "hammers"). See also: zither.

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Origin of dulcimer

  • Alteration (influenced by Latin dulcis sweet) of Middle English doucemer from Old French doulcemer, doulcemele probably from Latin dulce melos sweet song dulce neuter of dulcis sweet melos song (from Greek)
    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
  • From Old French doulcemelle, probably from Latin dulce melos (“sweet song”), from Ancient Greek μέλος (melos, “melody, song”).
    From Wiktionary