a woodwind instrument of the family that includes the bassoon and cor anglais, consisting of a conical tube fitted with a mouthpiece having a double reed. It has a penetrating nasal tone. Range: about two octaves plus a sixth upwards from B flat below middle C
a person who plays this instrument in an orchestra: second oboe
Archaic form hautboy
C18: via Italian oboe, phonetic approximation to French haut bois, literally: high wood (referring to its pitch)
1724, from Italian oboe, from phonetic spelling of Middle French hautbois (itself borrowed in English 16c. as hautboy), from haut "high, loud, high-pitched" (see haught) + bois "wood" (see bush (n.)). So called because it had the highest register among woodwind instruments. Related: Oboist.