viol

[ vahy-uh l ]
/ ˈvaɪ əl /

noun

a bowed musical instrument, differing from the violin in having deeper ribs, sloping shoulders, a greater number of strings, usually six, and frets: common in the 16th and 17th centuries in various sizes from the treble viol to the bass viol.

Origin of viol

1475–85; < Middle French viole (akin to Old French viel(l)e > earlier English viele) < Old Provençal viola, derivative of violar to play the viola1 (perhaps imitative)

Can be confused

vial vile viol
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for viol

British Dictionary definitions for viol

viol

/ (ˈvaɪəl) /

noun

any of a family of stringed musical instruments that preceded the violin family, consisting of a fretted fingerboard, a body rather like that of a violin but having a flat back and six strings, played with a curved bow. They are held between the knees when played and have a quiet yet penetrating tone; they were much played, esp in consorts, in the 16th and 17th centuries

Word Origin for viol

C15: from Old French viole, from Old Provençal viola; see viola 1
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