• synonyms


  1. a musical wind instrument, a development of the old wooden serpent, consisting of a conical metal tube bent double.
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Origin of ophicleide

1825–35; < French ophicléide < Greek óphi(s) serpent + kleid- (stem of kleís) key (akin to Latin clavis; see clavicle)
Related formsoph·i·clei·de·an, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ophicleide

Historical Examples of ophicleide

  • Neither saxophone nor ophicleide was necessary for him to fill the soul with awe.

    The Pianolist

    Gustav Kobb

  • Those who played the trombone and the ophicleide blew till their thick lips swelled, and seemed to cover up the mouthpieces.

    Brought Forward

    R. B. Cunninghame Graham

  • Originally these tones were played by the Ophicleide or Serpent (now obsolete).

    Music: An Art and a Language

    Walter Raymond Spalding

  • Ophicleide, of′i-klīd, n. a large bass trumpet, with a deep pitch.

  • The application of keys to the bugle produced the Kent bugle, and later the ophicleide.

British Dictionary definitions for ophicleide


  1. music an obsolete keyed wind instrument of bass pitch
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Word Origin for ophicleide

C19: from French ophiclēide, from Greek ophis snake + kleis key
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