- a sacred song or hymn.
- (initial capital letter) any of the songs, hymns, or prayers contained in the Book of Psalms.
- a metric version or paraphrase of any of these.
- a poem of a similar nature.
Origin of psalm
- (often capital) any of the 150 sacred songs, lyric poems, and prayers that together constitute a book (Psalms) of the Old Testament
- a musical setting of one of these poems
- any sacred song or hymn
Word Origin and History for psalm
Old English psealm, salm, partly from Old French psaume, saume, partly from Church Latin psalmus, from Greek psalmos "song sung to a harp," originally "performance on stringed instrument; a plucking of the harp" (cf. psaltes "harper"), from psallein "play on a stringed instrument, pull, twitch" (see feel (v.)).
Used in Septuagint for Hebrew mizmor "song," especially the sort sung by David to the harp. Related: Psalmodize; psalmody. After some hesitation, the pedantic ps- spelling prevailed in English, as it was in many neighboring languages (German, French, etc.), but English is almost alone in not pronouncing the p-.