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barrel organ

a musical instrument in which air from a bellows is admitted to a set of pipes by means of pins inserted into a revolving barrel; hand organ.
Origin of barrel organ
First recorded in 1765-75 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for barrel organ
Historical Examples
  • He's got 'em all as ready as sharp-shooting, and as correct—as correct, as a barrel organ!

    Contraband G. J. Whyte-Melville
  • The husband, quite depressed, admitted that it reminded him of a barrel organ.

    Married August Strindberg
  • After all, I did play the barrel organ all the way down Regent Street.

    The Lion's Share E. Arnold Bennett
  • It helped perhaps that the brake, with its handle like a barrel organ, had been screwed up before Benham took control.

  • His business was to wale dismal, and bow his head down, the band (a barrel organ and a wiolin) playin slow and melancholly moosic.

    The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Charles Farrar Browne (AKA Artemus Ward)
  • He was a kind of musical box or barrel organ in conversation, because he could only play one tune.

  • In the evening the keyboard was removed, and your humble servant ground out the hymn tunes as on a barrel organ.

  • I should like to be a peer who grinds a barrel organ or (better still) a one-time organ-grinder who now lives in Park Lane.

    The Journal of a Disappointed Man Wilhelm Nero Pilate Barbellion
  • Dugald Stewart said that human invention, like the barrel organ, was limited to a specific number of tunes.

  • I played the barrel organ all the way down Regent Street, and it was smashed to pieces.

    The Lion's Share E. Arnold Bennett
British Dictionary definitions for barrel organ

barrel organ

an instrument consisting of a cylinder turned by a handle and having pins on it that interrupt the air flow to certain pipes, thereby playing any of a number of tunes See also hurdy-gurdy
a similar instrument in which the projections on a rotating barrel pluck a set of strings
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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