• synonyms


[plek-truh m]
noun, plural plec·tra [plek-truh] /ˈplɛk trə/, plec·trums.
  1. a small piece of plastic, metal, ivory, etc., for plucking the strings of a guitar, lyre, mandolin, etc.
  2. Anatomy, Zoology. an anatomical part resembling a plectrum in shape.
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Origin of plectrum

1620–30; < Latin plēctrum < Greek plêktron
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for plectrum

Historical Examples

  • The Greek harp was played by picking the strings with the fingers or with a plectrum.

    How the Piano Came to Be

    Ellye Howell Glover

  • To calm himself he drew it to him, took up the plectrum, and began to play.

  • Rabab, a kind of guitar of the Hindus, played with a plectrum.

  • Its wire-strings are twanged with a plectrum made of wood and glass.

  • In playing it the touching is not done with the fingers, but with a plectrum of ivory.

    A Japanese Boy

    Shigemi Shiukichi

British Dictionary definitions for plectrum


noun plural -trums or -tra (-trə)
  1. any implement for plucking a string, such as a small piece of plastic, wood, etc, used to strum a guitar, or the quill that plucks the string of a harpsichord
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Word Origin

C17: from Latin plēctrum quill, plectrum, from Greek plektron, from plessein to strike
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 plectrum


something used to pluck the strings of a musical instrument, 1620s, from Latin plectrum, from Greek plektron "thing to strike with" (pick for a lyre, cock's spur, spear point, etc.), from plek-, root of plessein "to strike" (see plague (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper