- 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 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-.