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[klar-uh-net] /ˌklær əˈnɛt/
a woodwind instrument in the form of a cylindrical tube with a single reed attached to its mouthpiece.
Origin of clarinet
1790-1800; < French clarinette, equivalent to Old French clarin clarion + -ette -ette
Related forms
clarinetist, clarinettist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for clarinet
  • Let's take a look beyond guitar, piano, and clarinet to uncharted territory.
  • Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs.
  • Let the trumpet state what departure means and the clarinet will describe what being alone means.
  • Extended improvised solos are generally performed on guitar and/or violin but clarinet and accordion are also gaining adherents.
  • Plena ensembles sometimes added a conga drum and a single maraca as well as a trumpet, clarinet or accordion.
  • The clarinet took center stage in this revamped music that looked more toward the dance floor than the old village square.
  • We ate halibut cheeks that night with some fishermen who brought along a fiddle, two guitars, even a clarinet.
  • Seeing that she intends to use the knife, he hits it from her hand with a clarinet.
  • He's filmed here, he's lived here, he's played jazz clarinet here.
  • They played the clarinet and the piano, performed magicians' tricks and made jewelry.
British Dictionary definitions for clarinet


noun (music)
a keyed woodwind instrument with a cylindrical bore and a single reed. It is a transposing instrument, most commonly pitched in A or B flat Obsolete name clarionet (ˌklærɪəˈnɛt)
an orchestral musician who plays the clarinet
Derived Forms
clarinettist, clarinetist, noun
Word Origin
C18: from French clarinette, probably from Italian clarinetto, from clarino trumpet
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 clarinet

1768, from French clarinette (18c.), diminutive of clarine "little bell" (16c.), noun use of fem. of adjective clarin (which also was used as a noun, "trumpet, clarion"), from clair, cler (see clear (adj.)). Alternative form clarionet is attested from 1784.

The instrument, a modification of the medieval shawm, said to have been invented c.1700 by J.C. Denner of Nuremberg, Germany. A recognized orchestral instrument from c.1775. Ease of playing increased greatly with a design improvement from 1843 based on Boehm's flute.

After the hautboy came the clarinet. This instrument astonished every beholder, not so much, perhaps, on account of its sound, as its machinery. One that could manage the keys of a clarinet, forty five years ago, so as to play a tune, was one of the wonders of the age. Children of all ages would crowd around the performer, and wonder and admire when the keys were moved. [Nathaniel D. Gould, "Church Music in America," Boston, 1853]
German Clarinet, Swedish klarinett, Italian clarinetto, etc. all are from French. Related: Clarinettist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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clarinet in Culture

clarinet definition

A woodwind instrument, usually made of black wood or plastic, and played with a single reed. The clarinet has extensive use in Dixieland, jazz, and military music, as well as in classical music.

Note: The most famous American clarinetist was Benny Goodman.
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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