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.
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