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harpsichord

[hahrp-si-kawrd] /ˈhɑrp sɪˌkɔrd/
noun
1.
a keyboard instrument, precursor of the piano, in which the strings are plucked by leather or quill points connected with the keys, in common use from the 16th to the 18th century, and revived in the 20th.
Origin
1605-1615
1605-15; < Neo-Latin harpichordium (with intrusive -s- of obscure origin). See harp, -i-, chord1
Related forms
harpsichordist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for harpsichord
  • He approached his harpsichord with the air of a mortician, slightly flexing his long, delicate hands.
  • Vivid sound, which sharply etches the harpsichord part, completes the package.
  • Hopkinson appears to have begun his formal musical training, in the form of harpsichord lessons, at age seventeen.
  • In addition, he plays the harpsichord for relaxation.
British Dictionary definitions for harpsichord

harpsichord

/ˈhɑːpsɪˌkɔːd/
noun
1.
a horizontally strung stringed keyboard instrument, triangular in shape, consisting usually of two manuals controlling various sets of strings plucked by pivoted plectrums mounted on jacks. Some harpsichords have a pedal keyboard and stops by which the tone colour may be varied
Derived Forms
harpsichordist, noun
Word Origin
C17: from New Latin harpichordium, from Late Latin harpaharp + Latin chordachord1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for harpsichord
n.

1610s, from French harpechorde "harp string," from Modern Latin harpichordium (cf. Italian arpicordo), from harpa (see harp (n.)) + chorda "string" (see cord). The -s- is unexplained, but it is attested in the earliest English forms.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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harpsichord in Culture

harpsichord definition


A stringed keyboard instrument much used in the baroque era in music. The keys of a harpsichord move small devices that pluck the strings; the strings are not struck with hammers, as in a piano. Thus, although harpsichords often look much like pianos, their characteristic tinkly sound is unlike that of the piano, and a harpsichordist cannot change the volume of the sound by striking the keys harder, as a pianist can.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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