• synonyms


  1. a medieval form of the trombone.
  2. Bible. an ancient stringed musical instrument. Dan. 3.
Show More

Origin of sackbut

1495–1505; < Middle French saquebute, earlier saqueboute, saquebot(t)e orig., a kind of hooked lance, apparently with saque (it) pulls (see saccade); identity of 2nd element uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sackbut

Historical Examples

  • At last one day he remembered the walnut which Sackbut had given him.

    The Blue Rose Fairy Book

    Maurice Baring

  • But she recovered rapidly after her marriage, her eyes grew brighter, we saw less of Sackbut's "delicious skeleton."

  • He can play any musical instrument from a sackbut to a Jew's harp, and speak any language from Czech to Choctaw.

    The Sixth Sense

    Stephen McKenna

  • Among them are the Psaltery of various shapes, the Sambuca or sackbut, the single and double Chorus, &c.

  • In one place he is merely called a Minstrel, but in the other he is specifically described as a Sackbut.

British Dictionary definitions for sackbut


  1. a medieval form of trombone
Show More

Word Origin

C16: from French saqueboute, from Old French saquer to pull + bouter to push; see butt ³: used in the Bible (Daniel 3) as a mistranslation of Aramaic sabb'ka stringed instrument
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 sackbut


medieval wind instrument, c.1500, from French saquebute, a bass trumpet with a slide like a trombone; presumably identical with Old North French saqueboute (14c.), "a lance with an iron hook for pulling down mounted men," said to be from Old North French saquier "to pull, draw" + bouter "to thrust," from Germanic *buton (see butt (v.)). Originally in English with many variant spellings, including sagbutt, shakbott, shagbush.

In Dan. iii:5, used wrongly to translate Aramaic sabbekha, name of a stringed instrument (translated correctly in Septuagint as sambuke, and in Vulgate as sambuca, both names of stringed instruments, and probably ultimately cognate with the Aramaic word). The error began with Coverdale (1535), who evidently thought it was a wind instrument and rendered it with shawm; the Geneva translators, evidently following Coverdale, chose sackbut because it sounded like the original Aramaic word, and this was followed in KJV and Revised versions.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper