[hur-dee-gur-dee, -gur-]

noun, plural hur·dy-gur·dies.

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
Related formshur·dy-gur·dist, hur·dy-gur·dy·ist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hurdy-gurdy

Historical Examples of hurdy-gurdy

  • The hurdy-gurdy, I need hardly tell you, belongs to the organ family.

    Journeys to Bagdad

    Charles S. Brooks

  • But in the city it is the hurdy-gurdy that gives notice of the turning of the seasons.

    Journeys to Bagdad

    Charles S. Brooks

  • 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

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • Tonio will take to the hurdy-gurdy again; him an' Puck should win money too.

    Two Little Travellers

    Frances Browne Arthur

British Dictionary definitions for hurdy-gurdy


noun plural -dies

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

Word Origin for hurdy-gurdy

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