an old musical instrument related to the guitar, having a flat, pear-shaped soundbox and wire strings.

1550–60; blend of cither and gittern Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cittern, cither or cithern (ˈsɪtɜːn)
Compare gittern a medieval stringed instrument resembling a lute but having wire strings and a flat back
[C16: perhaps a blend of cither + gittern]
cither, cither or cithern
[C16: perhaps a blend of cither + gittern]
cithern, cither or cithern
[C16: perhaps a blend of cither + gittern]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica


plucked stringed musical instrument that was popular in the 16th-18th century. It had a shallow, pear-shaped body with an asymmetrical neck that was thicker under the treble strings. Derived from the citole, a similar 14th- and 15th-century instrument with gut strings, the cittern had four unison courses of wire strings. Diapasons, additional courses to reinforce the basses of chords, were also common. The strings were hitched to the instrument end and passed over a violin-type, or pressure, bridge. Tuning of the principal strings was B-G-D-E (Italian) or A-G-D-E (French) in the octave below middle C

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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