Word Origin & History
late 14c., from O.Fr. flaute, from O.Prov. flaut, of uncertain origin, perhaps imitative or from L. flare "to blow;" perhaps influenced by Prov. laut "lute." The other Germanic words (cf. Ger. 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 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. The verb is recorded from late 14c. in sense "to play upon the flute;" meaning "to make (architectural) flutes" is from 1570s. Related: Fluted; fluting.