Origin of pipe

before 1000; (noun) Middle English, Old English pīpe musical pipe, tube (cognate with Dutch pijp, Low German pīpe, German Pfeife, Old Norse pīpa) < Vulgar Latin *pīpa, derivative of Latin pīpāre to chirp, play a pipe; (v.) Middle English pipen; in part continuing Old English pīpian to play a pipe < Latin pīpāre; in part < Old French piper to make a shrill sound < Latin pīpāre (cf. peep2)
Related formspipe·less, adjectivepipe·like, adjectiveun·piped, adjective

Synonyms for pipe




a large cask, of varying capacity, especially for wine or oil.
such a cask as a measure of liquid capacity, equal to 4 barrels, 2 hogsheads, or half a tun, and containing 126 wine gallons.
such a cask with its contents.

Origin of pipe

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French, ultimately same as pipe1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pipe

British Dictionary definitions for pipe




a long tube of metal, plastic, etc, used to convey water, oil, gas, etc
a long tube or case
  1. an object made in any of various shapes and sizes, consisting of a small bowl with an attached tubular stem, in which tobacco or other substances are smoked
  2. (as modifier)a pipe bowl
Also called: pipeful the amount of tobacco that fills the bowl of a pipe
zoology botany any of various hollow organs, such as the respiratory passage of certain animals
  1. any musical instrument whose sound production results from the vibration of an air column in a simple tube
  2. any of the tubular devices on an organ, in which air is made to vibrate either directly, as in a flue pipe, or by means of a reed
an obsolete three-holed wind instrument, held in the left hand while played and accompanied by the taborSee tabor
the pipes See bagpipes
a shrill voice or sound, as of a bird
  1. a boatswain's pipe
  2. the sound it makes
(plural) informal the respiratory tract or vocal cords
metallurgy a conical hole in the head of an ingot, made by escaping gas as the metal cools
a cylindrical vein of rich ore, such as one of the vertical diamond-bearing veins at Kimberley, South Africa
Also called: volcanic pipe a vertical cylindrical passage in a volcano through which molten lava is forced during eruption
US slang something easy to do, esp a simple course in college
put that in your pipe and smoke it informal accept that fact if you can


to play (music) on a pipe
(tr) to summon or lead by a pipeto pipe the dancers
to utter (something) shrilly
  1. to signal orders to (the crew) by a boatswain's pipe
  2. (tr)to signal the arrival or departure ofto pipe the admiral aboard
(tr) to convey (water, gas, etc) by a pipe or pipes
(tr) to provide with pipes
(tr) to trim (an article, esp of clothing) with piping
(tr) to force (cream, icing, etc) through a shaped nozzle to decorate food
See also pipe down, pipe up
Derived Formspipeless, adjectivepipy, adjective

Word Origin for pipe

Old English pīpe (n), pīpian (vb), ultimately from Latin pīpāre to chirp




a large cask for wine, oil, etc
a measure of capacity for wine equal to four barrels. 1 pipe is equal to 126 US gallons or 105 Brit gallons
a cask holding this quantity with its contents

Word Origin for pipe

C14: via Old French (in the sense: tube, tubular vessel), ultimately from Latin pīpāre to chirp; compare pipe 1
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 pipe

Old English pipe "musical wind instrument," also "tube to convey water," from Vulgar Latin *pipa "a pipe, tube-shaped musical instrument" (source of Italian pipa, French pipe, Old Frisian pipe, German Pfeife, Danish pibe, Swedish pipa, Dutch pijp), a back-formation from Latin pipare "to chirp or peep," of imitative origin. All tubular senses ultimately derive from "small reed, whistle." Meaning "device for smoking" first recorded 1590s. Pipe-bomb attested from 1960. Pipe-cleaner recorded from 1863.


Old English pipian "to play on a pipe," from Latin pipare "to peep, chirp" (see pipe (n.1)). Cf. Dutch pijpen, German pfeifen. Meaning "convey through pipes" is first recorded 1887. Related: Piped; piping. Piping hot is in Chaucer, a reference to hissing of food in a frying pan; to pipe up (early 15c.) originally meant "to begin to play" (on a musical instrument); sense of "to speak out" is from 1856. Pipe down "be quiet" is from 1900; earlier in nautical jargon it meant "use a boatswain's whistle to dismiss the men from duty" (1833).


type of cask, early 14c., from Old French pipe "liquid measure, cask for wine," from a special use of Vulgar Latin *pipa "pipe" (see pipe (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for pipe



A vertical cylindrical vein of ore.
See volcanic pipe.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with pipe


In addition to the idioms beginning with pipe

  • pipe down
  • pipe dream
  • pipe up

also see:

  • in the pipeline
  • lead-pipe cinch
  • put that in your pipe
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.