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dulcimer

[duhl-suh-mer]
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noun
  1. Also called hammered dulcimer, hammer dulcimer. a trapezoidal zither with metal strings that are struck with light hammers.
  2. Also called mountain dulcimer. a modern folk instrument related to the guitar and plucked with the fingers.
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Origin of dulcimer

1560–70; alteration of Middle English dowcemere < Middle French doulcemer, dissimilated variant of doulcemele < Old Italian dolcimelo, dolzemele < Latin dulce melos sweet song. See dulcet, melic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for dulcimer

dulcimer

noun music
  1. a tuned percussion instrument consisting of a set of strings of graduated length stretched over a sounding board and struck with a pair of hammers
  2. an instrument used in US folk music, consisting of an elliptical body, a fretted fingerboard, and usually three strings plucked with a goose quill
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Word Origin

C15: from Old French doulcemer, from Old Italian dolcimelo, from dolce sweet, from Latin dulcis + -melo, perhaps from Greek melos song
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 dulcimer

n.

late 15c., from Middle French doulce mer, variant of doulcemele, perhaps from doulz de mer, said to represent Latin dulce "sweet" + melos "song," from Greek melos "melody."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper