[sim-buh l]


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 formscym·bal·er, cym·bal·eer, cym·bal·ist, nouncym·bal·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cymbal

Contemporary Examples of cymbal

Historical Examples of cymbal

  • 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.

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 Formscymbaler, cymbaleer or cymbalist, nouncymbal-like, adjective

Word Origin for cymbal

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

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

Culture definitions for cymbal


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.