1. a musical wind instrument consisting of a conical, usually brass tube with keys or valves and a mouthpiece with one reed.

Origin of saxophone

1850–55; Sax (see saxhorn) + -o- + -phone
Related formssax·o·phon·ic [sak-suh-fon-ik] /ˌsæk səˈfɒn ɪk/, adjectivesax·o·phon·ist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for saxophone

Contemporary Examples of saxophone

Historical Examples of saxophone

  • He mends the plumbing, tunes the piano, types—off stage—and plays the saxophone.

  • The sob of the saxophone, still doing jazz, came through the window.

    Maw's Vacation

    Emerson Hough

  • I mentioned the jazzin'-valve—whut some folks calls the saxophone.

    Sundry Accounts

    Irvin S. Cobb

  • Now, in the world at large the saxophone has its friends and its foes.

    Sundry Accounts

    Irvin S. Cobb

  • It was a fiddle he played while Rome burned—it might have been a saxophone.

    Sundry Accounts

    Irvin S. Cobb

British Dictionary definitions for saxophone


  1. a keyed wind instrument of mellow tone colour, used mainly in jazz and dance music. It is made in various sizes, has a conical bore, and a single reedOften shortened to: sax
Derived Formssaxophonic (ˌsæksəˈfɒnɪk), adjectivesaxophonist (sækˈsɒfənɪst), noun

Word Origin for saxophone

C19: named after Adolphe Sax (1814–94), Belgian musical-instrument maker, who invented it (1846)
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 saxophone

1851, from French saxophone, named for Antoine Joseph "Adolphe" Sax (1814-1894), Belgian instrument maker who devised it c.1840, + Greek -phonos "voiced, sounding." His father, Charles Joseph (1791-1865) invented the less popular saxhorn (1845). The surname is a spelling variant of Sachs, Sacks, literally "Saxon." Related: Saxophonist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

saxophone in Culture


A wind instrument classified as a woodwind because it is played with a reed, although it is usually made of metal. Saxophones appear mainly in jazz, dance, and military bands. They are made in several ranges, from soprano to bass.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.