Origin of castanet

1640–50; < Spanish castañeta, equivalent to castañ(a) chestnut (< Latin castanea) + -eta diminutive suffix; see -et, -ette Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for castanets

Historical Examples of castanets

  • Furious blasts clutched at the windows, and rattled them like castanets.

    The Green Satin Gown

    Laura E. Richards

  • She hummed a tune to herself, rattling a pair of castanets slightly now and then.

    Within the Tides

    Joseph Conrad

  • My teeth chattered like castanets, jarring in my jaws until it was painful.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • I expected to hear your teeth chattering together like castanets.

  • She was to warn them with her castanets the instant she caught sight of the patrol.


    Prosper Merimee

British Dictionary definitions for castanets


pl n
  1. curved pieces of hollow wood, usually held between the fingers and thumb and made to click together: used esp by Spanish dancers

Word Origin for castanets

C17 castanet, from Spanish castañeta, diminutive of castaña chestnut
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

Word Origin and History for castanets



usually castanets, 1640s, from French castagnette or directly from Spanish castañeta diminutive of castaña "chestnut," from Latin castanea (see chestnut).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper