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[sim-buh l] /ˈsɪm bəl/
a concave plate of brass or bronze that produces a sharp, ringing sound when struck: played either in pairs, by being struck together, or singly, by being struck with a drumstick or the like.
before 900; Middle English; Old English cymbala < Medieval Latin, variant of cymbalum < Latin < Greek kýmbalon, variant of kýmbos, kýmbē hollow object
Related forms
cymbaler, cymbaleer, cymbalist, noun
cymballike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cymbals
  • He arrived with a number of monks who brought trumpets, drums, and cymbals.
  • The cacophony of prayers, drums, and cymbals echoed night and day.
  • They shuffled up the aisle, wary, clanking with cymbals tied to their knees and bells attached to the tips of their shoes.
  • The sizzle of cymbals and transient snap of sticks hitting drums are startling in their accuracy and effortlessness.
  • Before long, she had mastered the art of finessing the flames, while her husband figured out how to operate the cymbals.
  • Then the drum-beat of anticipation ended in a clash of publicity's cymbals.
  • Trainer sets up downstage, in the exact center, with his two cymbals parallel and at the same height.
  • First came a mounted band of sixteen bugles, drums and cymbals, playing wild martial tunes-made my heart jump.
  • While you're there, check out the owner's collections: skulls and signed guitars and cymbals.
  • cymbals crashed, harp runs flew up, the violins soared.
British Dictionary definitions for cymbals


a percussion instrument of indefinite pitch consisting of a thin circular piece of brass, which vibrates when clashed together with another cymbal or struck with a stick
Derived Forms
cymbaler, cymbaleer, cymbalist, noun
cymbal-like, adjective
Word Origin
Old English cymbala, from Medieval Latin, from Latin cymbalum, from Greek kumbalon, from kumbē something hollow
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 cymbals



from Old English cimbal and from Old French cymbale (13c.), both from Latin cymbalum, from Greek kymbalon "a cymbal," from kymbe "bowl, drinking cup."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cymbals in Culture

cymbal definition

A large, round metal plate used as a percussion instrument. Cymbals can be crashed together in pairs or struck singly with a drumstick, and they are used in dance bands, jazz bands, and orchestras.

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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cymbals in the Bible

(Heb. tzeltzelim, from a root meaning to "tinkle"), musical instruments, consisting of two convex pieces of brass one held in each hand, which were clashed together to produce a loud clanging sound; castanets; "loud cymbals." "Highsounding cymbals" consisted of two larger plates, one held also in each hand (2 Sam. 6:5; Ps. 150:5; 1 Chr. 13:8; 15:16, 19, 28; 1 Cor. 13:1).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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