1. an acoustical instrument dating from antiquity, consisting of an oblong wooden sounding box, usually with a single string, used for the mathematical determination of musical intervals.

Origin of monochord

1375–1425; late Middle English monocorde < Medieval Latin monochordum < Greek monóchordon, noun use of neuter of monóchordos with one string. See mono-, chord1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for monochord

Historical Examples of monochord

  • The clavichord retained the box shape of its prototype, the monochord.

  • And I wonder—did or did not Elena learn to play the monochord?

  • For determining the correct pitch of the notes of the scale he explains the manner of demonstrating them upon the monochord.

  • The monochord originally was used much as we use a tuning fork, to determine true musical pitch.

  • Monochord means “one string,” and the application of the term to the instrument after other strings had been added was a misnomer.

British Dictionary definitions for monochord


  1. an instrument employed in acoustic analysis or investigation, consisting usually of one string stretched over a resonator of woodAlso called: sonometer (səˈnɒmɪtə)

Word Origin for monochord

C15: from Old French, from Late Latin, from Greek monokhordon, from mono- + khordē string
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