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  1. (in any family of instruments) the member below the bass.
  2. (in the violin family) the double bass.
  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of such instruments: a contrabass trombone.

Origin of contrabass

From Italian, dating back to 1590–1600; see origin at contrabasso
Related formscon·tra·bass·ist [kon-truh-bey-sist, -bas-ist] /ˈkɒn trəˌbeɪ sɪst, -ˌbæs ɪst/, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for contrabass

Historical Examples

  • For military purposes, this and the contrabass—the helicon—are circular.

    Scientific American Supplement No. 819


  • Darwin had the contrabass played to an audience of sprouting garden-beans, in order to observe the effect of music on vegetation.

    The Quest

    Frederik van Eeden

  • As a contrabass to the rhythm of the blacksmiths hammer, the booming murmur of the sea trembled across the summer air.


    George Allan England

  • Down the shaded street the metallic rhythm of the anvil was breaking through the contrabass of the surf.


    George Allan England

  • The tone was pleasant and full, but not powerful enough for the contrabass register in a military band.

British Dictionary definitions for contrabass


  1. a member of any of various families of musical instruments that is lower in pitch than the bass
  2. another name for double bass
  1. of or denoting the instrument of a family that is lower than the bass
Derived Formscontrabassist (ˌkɒntrəˈbeɪsɪst, -ˈbæs-), noun
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