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[sim-buh l] /ˈsɪm bəl/
a concave plate of brass or bronze that produces a sharp, ringing sound when struck: played either in pairs, by being struck together, or singly, by being struck with a drumstick or the like.
Origin of cymbal
before 900; Middle English; Old English cymbala < Medieval Latin, variant of cymbalum < Latin < Greek kýmbalon, variant of kýmbos, kýmbē hollow object
Related forms
cymbaler, cymbaleer, cymbalist, noun
cymballike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cymbal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The cymbal of the Austrian gypsies is a stringed instrument, like the zitter.

    The Gypsies Charles G. Leland
  • Formerly the girls would dance to the sound of song and cymbal.

  • And now the trio was a trio of castanet smacks and cymbal claps.

    Sea and Sardinia D. H. Lawrence
  • He worshipped the lofty, but it was with tabor and cymbal and high-sounding lute.

    The Sword of Damocles Anna Katharine Green
  • The band opened with a terrifying clash of cymbal, and thump of drum.

    Cheerful--By Request Edna Ferber
  • We shall then lay bare the mechanism which produces the sound, the cymbal.

  • Gud nodded to him approvingly, whereupon five beautiful damsels entered dancing to flats and sharps, and flute and cymbal.

    The Book of Gud Dan Spain
  • He played the clavier, the flgel, the cymbal with equal creative power, and the organ—who is like him?


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • Behind him flaunted the great gonfanon of Spain, and trump and cymbal heralded his approach.

    Leila, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for cymbal


a percussion instrument of indefinite pitch consisting of a thin circular piece of brass, which vibrates when clashed together with another cymbal or struck with a stick
Derived Forms
cymbaler, cymbaleer, cymbalist, noun
cymbal-like, adjective
Word Origin
Old English cymbala, from Medieval Latin, from Latin cymbalum, from Greek kumbalon, from kumbē something hollow
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 cymbal

from Old English cimbal and from Old French cymbale (13c.), both from Latin cymbalum, from Greek kymbalon "a cymbal," from kymbe "bowl, drinking cup."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cymbal in Culture

cymbal definition

A large, round metal plate used as a percussion instrument. Cymbals can be crashed together in pairs or struck singly with a drumstick, and they are used in dance bands, jazz bands, and orchestras.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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