- a barrel organ or similar musical instrument played by turning a crank.
- a lute- or guitar-shaped stringed musical instrument sounded by the revolution against the strings of a rosined wheel turned by a crank.
Origin of hurdy-gurdy
1740–50; variant of Scots hirdy-girdy uproar, influencedby hurly-burly
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for hurdy-gurdy
The hurdy-gurdy, I need hardly tell you, belongs to the organ family.
But in the city it is the hurdy-gurdy that gives notice of the turning of the seasons.
He had gone into a courtyard off Holborn, drawn by the sound of a hurdy-gurdy.On the Stairs
Henry B. Fuller
The boy evinced his gratitude by a new turn of the hurdy-gurdy.The Caxtons, Complete
Tonio will take to the hurdy-gurdy again; him an' Puck should win money too.Two Little Travellers
Frances Browne Arthur
- any mechanical musical instrument, such as a barrel organ
- a medieval instrument shaped like a viol in which a rosined wheel rotated by a handle sounds the strings
C18: rhyming compound, probably of imitative origin
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 hurdy-gurdy
1749, perhaps imitative of its sound and influenced by c.1500 hirdy-girdy "uproar, confusion."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper