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early 14c., from Old French flaute (12c.), from Old Provençal flaut, of uncertain origin, perhaps imitative or from Latin flare "to blow;" perhaps influenced by Provençal laut "lute." The other Germanic words (cf. German flöte) are likewise borrowings from French.
Ancient flutes were blown through a mouthpiece, like a recorder; the modern transverse or German flute developed 18c. The older style then sometimes were called flûte-a-bec (French, literally "flute with a beak"). The modern design and key system of the concert flute were perfected 1834 by Theobald Boehm. The architectural sense of "furrow in a pillar" (1650s) is from fancied resemblance to the inside of a flute split down the middle. Meaning "tall, slender wine glass" is from 1640s.
late 14c., "to play upon the flute," from flute (n.). Meaning "to make (architectural) flutes" is from 1570s. Related: Fluted; fluting.
A high-pitched woodwind, held horizontally by the player and played by blowing across a hole.
a musical instrument, probably composed of a number of pipes, mentioned Dan. 3:5, 7, 10, 15. In Matt. 9:23, 24, notice is taken of players on the flute, here called "minstrels" (but in R.V. "flute-players"). Flutes were in common use among the ancient Egyptians.