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[lahyuh r] /laɪər/
a musical instrument of ancient Greece consisting of a soundbox made typically from a turtle shell, with two curved arms connected by a yoke from which strings are stretched to the body, used especially to accompany singing and recitation.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Lyra.
Origin of lyre
1175-1225; Middle English lire < Latin lyra < Greek lýra
Can be confused
liar, lyre. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for lyre
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some lines of his on the lyre became the motto of an engraving by Bartolozzi.

  • And when he came upon Apollo striking his lyre, his heart leaped into his mouth.

    Buried Cities, Part 2 Jennie Hall
  • A lyre rested on his knees, and he was striking the strings softly.

    Buried Cities, Part 2 Jennie Hall
  • He touched the strings of his lyre, and all things were silent with joy.

    Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew Josephine Preston Peabody
  • Alas, my dear Thomson, I fear it will be some time ere I tune my lyre again!

  • At the two extremities of European thought the lyre has raised two vast cities.

    A Zola Dictionary J. G. Patterson
  • The lyre and the harp may be permitted in the town, and the Pan's-pipe in the fields.

    The Republic Plato
British Dictionary definitions for lyre


an ancient Greek stringed instrument consisting of a resonating tortoise shell to which a crossbar was attached by two projecting arms. It was plucked with a plectrum and used for accompanying songs
any ancient instrument of similar design
a medieval bowed instrument of the violin family
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Latin lyra, from Greek lura
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 lyre

harp-like instrument, c.1200, from Old French lire "lyre," from Latin lyra, from Greek lyra, a foreign word of uncertain origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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