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[zith-er, zith -] /ˈzɪθ ər, ˈzɪð-/
a musical instrument, consisting of a flat sounding box with numerous strings stretched over it, that is placed on a horizontal surface and played with a plectrum and the fingertips.
Origin of zither
1840-50; < German < Latin cithara < Greek kithárá; see kithara
Related forms
zitherist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for zither
Historical Examples
  • Your zither was left with us, and I've got the bassoon out of its case already.

  • There also in the evening Bavarian minstrels jodel, and play the zither.

    Historic Oddities Sabine Baring-Gould
  • I have a beautiful Greek girl here, highly accomplished; can embroider, play the zither, sing in two languages.

    Valeria William Henry Withrow
  • It sounds like a zither players sweetest songs, said the rider.

    Christ Legends Selma Lagerlf
  • Drawing his zither from its case, he laid it on the table and allowed his fingers to stray across the strings.

  • On an unlucky day one of the nieces took it into her head to study the zither.

    Nightmare Tales H. P. Blavatsky
  • Then she called to him: 'Why are you so cast down this evening, that you do not play on your zither?'

  • Aspasia is the scale of the zither, without whom our strings would not sound.

    Historical Miniatures August Strindberg
  • My ear, too, caught the twanging of a zither, which somehow reminded me of the afternoon in Kuprasso's garden-house.

    Greenmantle John Buchan
  • And so full was he of the idea of how to set about cleaving the log that he forgot even his zither.

British Dictionary definitions for zither


a plucked musical instrument consisting of numerous strings stretched over a resonating box, a few of which may be stopped on a fretted fingerboard
Derived Forms
zitherist, noun
Word Origin
C19: from German, from Latin cithara, from Greek kithara
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 zither

stringed musical instrument, 1850, from German Zither, from Old High German zitara, from Latin cithara, from Greek kithara "lute" (see guitar).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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