from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A medieval stringed instrument played by turning a rosined wheel with a crank and depressing keys connected to tangents on the strings.
  • n. Any instrument, such as a barrel organ, played by turning a crank.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Sounding like the Swedish language.
  • n. A medieval stringed instrument which has a droning sound. One hand turns a handle connected to a wheel which vibrates the strings, while the other hand plays a keyboard to alter the pitch.
  • n. A barrel organ.
  • n. A water wheel with radial buckets, driven by the impact of a jet.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A stringled instrument, lutelike in shape, in which the sound is produced by the friction of a wheel turned by a crank at the end, instead of by a bow, two of the strings being tuned as drones, while two or more, tuned in unison, are modulated by keys.
  • n. In California, a water wheel with radial buckets, driven by the impact of a jet.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A musical instrument shaped somewhat like a lute, having four or more strings, two of which are tuned a fifth apart for the production of a drone-bass, and the other two in unison, but so arranged that they can be shortened by pressing finger-keys connected with an apparatus of tangents not unlike that of the clavichord.
  • n. In California, a wheel moved by a jet of water issuing under pressure from a conical nozle, and striking open buckets on the circumference of the wheel; an impact-wheel.
  • n. A crank or windlass used by halibut-fishermen for hauling trawls in deep water where the strain is very heavy.
  • n. In a five-stringed instrument the lowest open string is called the bourdon, that next above the mouche, and the highest the trompette, and the melody strings are called chanterelles.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a musical instrument that makes music by rotation of a cylinder studded with pegs
  • n. a musical instrument that makes music by rotation of a cylinder studded with pegs


(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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  • A prostitute played this for House when he was acting out after his break up with Cuddy.

    July 2, 2012

  • A lute- or guitar-shaped stringed musical instrument sounded by the revolution against the strings of a rosined wheel turned by a crank.

    March 20, 2008

  • "Love makes people equal. For a moment he and she were completely on the same level.
    'To whom shall I pray?' he asked. 'Who says there's someone out there? Who says the universe isn't just one big hurdy-gurdy?'
    'Maybe it's not necessary to pray to anyone. The early desert mothers said that God is without form, colour, or content. Perhaps prayer isn't a matter of praying to anyone. Perhaps it's an active way of giving up. Maybe that's precisely what you need: to give up, without going under.'"
    - 'The Quiet Girl', Peter Høeg.

    March 18, 2008

  • They certainly are. I'm just being a jerk. ;-)

    April 13, 2007

  • I think both forms are acceptable.

    April 13, 2007

  • There's no hyphen in hurdy gurdy! :-P

    April 13, 2007

  • I saw Nigel Eaton play a hurdy-gurdy at a Page and Plant show in the 90s. The FAQ has more details about those performances and also a note on etymology.

    April 13, 2007