• synonyms


  1. a woodwind instrument having a slender conical, tubular body and a double-reed mouthpiece.
  2. (in an organ) a reed stop with a sound like that of an oboe.
  3. (a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter O.)
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Origin of oboe1

1690–1700; < Italian < French hautbois, equivalent to haut high + bois wood; see hautboy


noun (sometimes initial capital letter)
  1. a navigation system utilizing two radar ground stations that measure the distance to an aircraft and then radio the information to the aircraft.
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Origin of oboe2

First recorded in 1940–45; special use of oboe1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for oboe

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British Dictionary definitions for oboe


  1. a woodwind instrument of the family that includes the bassoon and cor anglais, consisting of a conical tube fitted with a mouthpiece having a double reed. It has a penetrating nasal tone. Range: about two octaves plus a sixth upwards from B flat below middle C
  2. a person who plays this instrument in an orchestrasecond oboe
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Archaic form: hautboy
Derived Formsoboist, noun

Word Origin

C18: via Italian oboe, phonetic approximation to French haut bois, literally: high wood (referring to its pitch)
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 oboe


1724, from Italian oboe, from phonetic spelling of Middle French hautbois (itself borrowed in English 16c. as hautboy), from haut "high, loud, high-pitched" (see haught) + bois "wood" (see bush (n.)). So called because it had the highest register among woodwind instruments. Related: Oboist.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

oboe in Culture


A woodwind instrument played with a double reed; similar to a bassoon, but pitched higher. Some describe its tone as nasal.

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The oboe appears frequently as a solo instrument in symphonies and other kinds of classical music.
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.