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90s Slang You Should Know

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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for barrel organ
Historical Examples
  • 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
  • The husband, quite depressed, admitted that it reminded him of a barrel organ.

    Married August Strindberg
  • I then felt the ridicule of my position; for the first time I realized that I was dressed like the monkey of a barrel organ.

    The Lily of the Valley Honore de Balzac
  • After all, I did play the barrel organ all the way down Regent Street.

    The Lion's Share E. Arnold Bennett
  • Little piano-fortes, played like a barrel organ, go about the streets, giving a pulse to the quick rhythm of life.

    From the Oak to the Olive Julia Ward Howe
  • In the evening the keyboard was removed, and your humble servant ground out the hymn tunes as on a barrel organ.

  • 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)
  • Dugald Stewart said that human invention, like the barrel organ, was limited to a specific number of tunes.

  • The other end of the line was a small square box, which was furnished with four handles, similar to that of a barrel organ.

  • 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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