[zith-er, zith-]


a musical instrument, consisting of a flat sounding box with numerous strings stretched over it, that is placed on a horizontal surface and played with a plectrum and the fingertips.

Origin of zither

1840–50; < German < Latin cithara < Greek kithárá; see kithara
Related formszith·er·ist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for zither

Historical Examples of zither

  • My grandfather plays the violin and I the zither—we also go to fairs.

    The Belovd Vagabond

    William J. Locke

  • It was exceedingly faint, like the distant thrumming of a zither.

    The Blind Spot

    Austin Hall

  • I had once passed six months in Bavaria, where I had learned to love the zither.

    Tenting on the Plains

    Elizabeth B. Custer

  • There also in the evening Bavarian minstrels jodel, and play the zither.

    Historic Oddities

    Sabine Baring-Gould

  • It sounds like a zither players sweetest songs, said the rider.

    Christ Legends

    Selma Lagerlf

British Dictionary definitions for zither



a plucked musical instrument consisting of numerous strings stretched over a resonating box, a few of which may be stopped on a fretted fingerboard
Derived Formszitherist, noun

Word Origin for zither

C19: from German, from Latin cithara, from Greek kithara
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 zither

stringed musical instrument, 1850, from German Zither, from Old High German zitara, from Latin cithara, from Greek kithara "lute" (see guitar).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper