[ per-kuhsh-uhn ]
See 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.

  1. the striking of a musical instrument to produce tones.

  2. Music.

    • the section of an orchestra or band comprising the percussion instruments.

    • the percussion instruments themselves.

  3. a sharp blow for detonating a percussion cap or the fuze of an artillery shell.

  4. the striking of sound on the ear.

  5. the act of percussing.

Origin of percussion

1535–45; <Latin percussiōn- (stem of percussiō) a beating. See percuss, -ion

Other words from percussion

  • per·cus·sion·al, adjective

Words Nearby percussion Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use percussion in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for percussion


/ (pəˈkʌʃən) /

  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

  1. music

    • instruments of this family constituting a section of an orchestra, band, etc

    • (as modifier): a percussion ensemble

  2. med the act of percussing a body surface

  3. the act of exploding a percussion cap

Origin of 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

Cultural definitions for percussion


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.