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[spin-it] /ˈspɪn ɪt/
a small upright piano.
a small, square piano.
any of various small harpsichords.
Also called spinet organ. a small electric organ.
Origin of spinet
1655-65; aphetic variant of obsolete espinette < French < Italian spinetta, probably equivalent to spin(a) thorn (see spine) + -etta diminutive suffix; the existence of an instrument-maker named Spinetti is unverified Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spinet
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There are two theories as to the origin of the name "spinet."

    How the Piano Came to Be Ellye Howell Glover
  • There are interesting old books on the virginals, harpsichord, and spinet.

    The Book-Hunter at Home P. B. M. Allan
  • She had been taking lessons on the spinet, but the painting was a great rival.

    A Little Girl in Old Salem

    Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • Her laugh was sweet and tinkly, like the upper notes of a spinet.

    IT and Other Stories Gouverneur Morris
  • Do you think that you could learn to play the spinet, Jenny?

    True to His Home Hezekiah Butterworth
  • Now I know it is a spinet I heard humming—I told you about it, mother.

    True to His Home Hezekiah Butterworth
  • Breathing hard, Groverzb rose and gingerly lifted the spinet's lid.

    Quiet, Please Kevin Scott
  • Then the order was given, "spinet, be silent," and all was quiet.

  • This spinet remained one of Verdi's most treasured possessions.

    Verdi: Man and Musician

    Frederick James Crowest
British Dictionary definitions for spinet


/spɪˈnɛt; ˈspɪnɪt/
a small type of harpsichord having one manual
Word Origin
C17: from Italian spinetta, perhaps from Giovanni Spinetti, 16th-century Italian maker of musical instruments and its supposed inventor
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 spinet

1660s, spinette, "small harpsichord," from older French espinette (1520s), from Italian spinetta, said by Scaliger to be a diminutive of spina "thorn, spine," from Latin spina "thorn" (see spine), so called because the strings were plucked with thorn-like quills. The other theory (favored by OED) dates to early 17c. and claims the word is from the name of the Venetian inventor, Giovanni Spinetti (fl. c.1503).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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