• synonyms


  1. an English folk clarinet having one ox horn concealing the reed and another forming the bell.
  2. a lively jiglike dance, originally to music played on a hornpipe, performed usually by one person, and traditionally a favorite of sailors.
  3. a piece of music for or in the style of such a dance.
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Origin of hornpipe

1350–1400; Middle English. See horn, pipe1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hornpipe

Historical Examples

  • It's like saying your prayers to a hornpipe, thinking of her and carrying on with them wastrels.

    Capt'n Davy's Honeymoon

    Hall Caine

  • In Britain, you have the hornpipe, a dance which is held an original of this country.

    A Treatise on the Art of Dancing

    Giovanni-Andrea Gallini

  • And if it will make your dinner agree with you, I will dance you a hornpipe into the bargain.

  • Tom was talked about: biceps like thighs, now: a hornpipe danced on the hands.

    The Bill-Toppers

    Andre Castaigne

  • He intimated also to Jack that he must get up and go through his hornpipe again.

    Salt Water

    W. H. G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for hornpipe


  1. an obsolete reed instrument with a mouthpiece made of horn
  2. an old British solo dance to a hornpipe accompaniment, traditionally performed by sailors
  3. a piece of music for such a dance
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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 hornpipe


c.1400, hornepype, "musical instrument with bell and mouthpiece made of horn," from horn (n.) + pipe (n.1). Later (late 15c.) "dance associated with sailors" (originally performed to music from such an instrument).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper