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1856, piccolo flute, from French piccolo, from Italian flauto piccolo "small flute," from piccolo "small," perhaps a children's made-up word, or from picca "point," or from Vulgar Latin root *pikk- "little," related to *piccare "to pierce" (see pike (n.2)). Other sources suggest it is from the same source as French petit (see petit (adj.)).
A small, high-pitched flute.
(Italian: "small flute"), highest pitched woodwind instrument of orchestras and military bands. It is a small transverse (horizontally played) flute of conical or cylindrical bore, fitted with Boehm-system keywork and pitched an octave higher than the ordinary concert flute.