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harpsichord

[hahrp-si-kawrd]
noun
  1. a keyboard instrument, precursor of the piano, in which the strings are plucked by leather or quill points connected with the keys, in common use from the 16th to the 18th century, and revived in the 20th.
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Origin of harpsichord

First recorded in 1605–15, harpsichord is from the New Latin word harpichordium (with intrusive -s- of obscure origin). See harp, -i-, chord1
Related formsharp·si·chord·ist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for harpsichord

harpsichord

noun
  1. a horizontally strung stringed keyboard instrument, triangular in shape, consisting usually of two manuals controlling various sets of strings plucked by pivoted plectrums mounted on jacks. Some harpsichords have a pedal keyboard and stops by which the tone colour may be varied
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Derived Formsharpsichordist, noun

Word Origin for harpsichord

C17: from New Latin harpichordium, from Late Latin harpa harp + Latin chorda chord 1
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 harpsichord

n.

1610s, from French harpechorde "harp string," from Modern Latin harpichordium (cf. Italian arpicordo), from harpa (see harp (n.)) + chorda "string" (see cord). The -s- is unexplained, but it is attested in the earliest English forms.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

harpsichord in Culture

harpsichord

A stringed keyboard instrument much used in the baroque era in music. The keys of a harpsichord move small devices that pluck the strings; the strings are not struck with hammers, as in a piano. Thus, although harpsichords often look much like pianos, their characteristic tinkly sound is unlike that of the piano, and a harpsichordist cannot change the volume of the sound by striking the keys harder, as a pianist can.

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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.