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[sam-uh-sen] /ˈsæm əˌsɛn/
a guitarlike Japanese musical instrument having an extremely long neck and three strings, played with a plectrum.
Origin of samisen
1610-20; < Japanese < Middle Chinese, equivalent to Chinese sānxia three-string banjo Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for samisen
Historical Examples
  • My dear, the young man bade her, fetch hither your samisen and let me hear you sing.

    Japanese Fairy Tales Grace James
  • While he feasted ten little goldfish danced, and just behind the goldfish ten carp made sweet music on the koto and samisen.

    Myths & Legends of Japan F. Hadland (Frederick Hadland) Davis
  • The street of the geisha is full of music, for they play the samisen there all day long.

    Japanese Fairy Tales Grace James
  • One morning Sawaichi got out his samisen, and striking some chords, began to play.

    Romances of Old Japan Yei Theodora Ozaki
  • The guests sit in a body off the arena, where the dancer steps out; the samisen player tunes the instrument on one side.

    A Japanese Boy Shigemi Shiukichi
  • The samisen may not afford music, but it can give expression to the emotional in feeling.

    The Yotsuya Kwaidan or O'Iwa Inari James S. De Benneville
  • And you could not play the samisen because I was in your arms.

    The Way of the Gods John Luther Long
  • One took her samisen and sang; and people crowded into the tiny yard to hear.

  • She played the samisen, the kotto, the biwa, and the small hand-drum.

    Japanese Fairy Tales Grace James
  • The samisen is capable of giving out both the mellow notes of the guitar and the sharp tone-sprays of the banjo.

    A Japanese Boy Shigemi Shiukichi
British Dictionary definitions for samisen


a variant of shamisen
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 samisen

Japanese three-stringed instrument, 1610s, from Chinese san-hsien, literally "three-strings," from san "three" + hsien "string."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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