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[kas-tuh-net] /ˌkæs təˈnɛt/
either of a pair of concave pieces of wood held in the palm of the hand and clicked together, usually to accompany dancing.
Origin of castanet
1640-50; < Spanish castañeta, equivalent to castañ(a) chestnut (< Latin castanea) + -eta diminutive suffix; see -et, -ette Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for castanets
Historical Examples
  • Furious blasts clutched at the windows, and rattled them like castanets.

    The Green Satin Gown Laura E. Richards
  • She hummed a tune to herself, rattling a pair of castanets slightly now and then.

    Within the Tides Joseph Conrad
  • My teeth chattered like castanets, jarring in my jaws until it was painful.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • I expected to hear your teeth chattering together like castanets.

    Frank Merriwell's Pursuit Burt L. Standish
  • She was to warn them with her castanets the instant she caught sight of the patrol.

    Carmen Prosper Merimee
  • I told her I should have liked to see her dance, only there were no castanets to be had.

    Carmen Prosper Merimee
  • The sound of the castanets seemed to make her alive all over.

    Elsie Venner Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • And thereupon, he hurled his cap at the wall, and snapped his fingers like castanets.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
  • Two or three, standing close to him, can hear his teeth clacking like castanets!

    The Death Shot Mayne Reid
  • This is danced by a man and a woman, and the castanets are used.

    Things seen in Spain C. Gasquoine Hartley
British Dictionary definitions for castanets


plural noun
curved pieces of hollow wood, usually held between the fingers and thumb and made to click together: used esp by Spanish dancers
Word Origin
C17 castanet, from Spanish castañeta, diminutive of castañachestnut
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 castanets



usually castanets, 1640s, from French castagnette or directly from Spanish castañeta diminutive of castaña "chestnut," from Latin castanea (see chestnut).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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