[per-kuhsh-uh n]
See more synonyms for percussion on
  1. the striking of one body against another with some sharpness; impact; blow.
  2. Medicine/Medical. the striking or tapping of the surface of a part of the body for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
  3. the striking of a musical instrument to produce tones.
  4. Music.
    1. the section of an orchestra or band comprising the percussion instruments.
    2. the percussion instruments themselves.
  5. a sharp blow for detonating a percussion cap or the fuze of an artillery shell.
  6. the striking of sound on the ear.
  7. the act of percussing.

Origin of percussion

1535–45; < Latin percussiōn- (stem of percussiō) a beating. See percuss, -ion
Related formsper·cus·sion·al, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for percussion

blow, sound, impact, shock, jolt, collision

Examples from the Web for percussion

Contemporary Examples of percussion

Historical Examples of percussion

British Dictionary definitions for percussion


  1. the act, an instance, or an effect of percussing
  2. music the family of instruments in which sound arises from the striking of materials with sticks, hammers, or the hands
  3. music
    1. instruments of this family constituting a section of an orchestra, band, etc
    2. (as modifier)a percussion ensemble
  4. med the act of percussing a body surface
  5. the act of exploding a percussion cap

Word Origin for percussion

C16: from Latin percussiō, from percutere to hit; see percuss
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 percussion

early 15c., "a striking, a blow; internal injury, contusion," from Latin percussionem (nominative percussio) "a beating, striking; a beat as a measure of time," noun of action from past participle stem of percutere "to strike hard, beat, smite; strike through and through," from per- "through" (see per) + quatere "to strike, shake" (see quash). Reference to musical instruments is first recorded 1776.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

percussion in Medicine


  1. A method of medical diagnosis in which various areas of the body, especially the chest, back, and abdomen, are tapped with the finger or a plexor to determine by resonance the condition of internal organs.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

percussion in Culture


A family of musical instruments played by striking their surfaces. Percussion instruments are used to accentuate and dramatize certain notes or rhythms and include instruments such as cymbals, drums, triangles, and xylophones. (See kettledrum, snare drum, and orchestra.)

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.