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Autoharp

[aw-toh-hahrp]
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Trademark.
  1. a zither having buttons that when depressed damp all strings except those to be sounded, the undamped strings being strummed to produce simple chords.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for autoharp

Autoharp

noun
  1. trademark a zither-like musical instrument used in country-and-western music, equipped with button-controlled dampers that can prevent selected strings from sounding, thus allowing chords to be played. It is plucked with the fingers or a plectrum
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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

Word Origin and History for autoharp

n.

1882, name on a patent taken out by Charles F. Zimmermann of Philadelphia, U.S.A., for an improved type of harp, an instrument considerably different from the modern autoharp, actually a chord zither, which was invented about the same time by K.A. Gütter of Markneukirchen, Germany, who called it a Volkszither.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper