- a zither having buttons that when depressed damp all strings except those to be sounded, the undamped strings being strummed to produce simple chords.
- trademark a zither-like musical instrument used in country-and-western music, equipped with button-controlled dampers that can prevent selected strings from sounding, thus allowing chords to be played. It is plucked with the fingers or a plectrum
Word Origin and History for autoharp
1882, name on a patent taken out by Charles F. Zimmermann of Philadelphia, U.S.A., for an improved type of harp, an instrument considerably different from the modern autoharp, actually a chord zither, which was invented about the same time by K.A. Gütter of Markneukirchen, Germany, who called it a Volkszither.