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spinet

[spin-it] /ˈspɪn ɪt/
noun
1.
a small upright piano.
2.
a small, square piano.
3.
any of various small harpsichords.
4.
Also called spinet organ. a small electric organ.
Origin
1655-1665
1655-65; aphetic variant of obsolete espinette < French < Italian spinetta, probably equivalent to spin(a) thorn (see spine) + -etta diminutive suffix; the existence of an instrument-maker named Spinetti is unverified
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for spinet
  • They had been known in a pinch to make do with her priceless spinet or to use her fragile étagère as a sort of shooting stick.
British Dictionary definitions for spinet

spinet

/spɪˈnɛt; ˈspɪnɪt/
noun
1.
a small type of harpsichord having one manual
Word Origin
C17: from Italian spinetta, perhaps from Giovanni Spinetti, 16th-century Italian maker of musical instruments and its supposed inventor
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for spinet
n.

1660s, spinette, "small harpsichord," from older French espinette (1520s), from Italian spinetta, said by Scaliger to be a diminutive of spina "thorn, spine," from Latin spina "thorn" (see spine), so called because the strings were plucked with thorn-like quills. The other theory (favored by OED) dates to early 17c. and claims the word is from the name of the Venetian inventor, Giovanni Spinetti (fl. c.1503).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for spinet

small form of the harpsichord, generally wing-shaped, with a single set of strings placed at an oblique angle to the keyboard. The wing-shaped spinet may have originated in Italy during the 16th century; later it became known in France and England.

Learn more about spinet with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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