from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A high-pitched woodwind instrument consisting of a slender tube closed at one end with keys and finger holes on the side and an opening near the closed end across which the breath is blown.
  • noun Any of various similar reedless woodwind instruments, such as the recorder.
  • noun An organ stop whose flue pipe produces a flutelike tone.
  • noun Architecture A long, usually rounded groove incised as a decorative motif on the shaft of a column, for example.
  • noun A similar groove or furrow, as in a pleated ruffle of cloth or on a piece of furniture.
  • noun A tall narrow wineglass, often used for champagne.
  • intransitive verb Music To play (a tune) on a flute.
  • intransitive verb To produce in a flutelike tone.
  • intransitive verb To make flutes in (a column, for example).
  • intransitive verb Music To play a flute.
  • intransitive verb To sing, whistle, or speak with a flutelike tone.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To play on a flute; produce a soft, clear note like that of a flute.
  • To play or sing softly and clearly in notes resembling those of a flute.
  • To form flutes or grooves in, as in a ruffle. See gauffer.
  • noun and The variety of names applied both to flutes proper and to fluty stops in the organ is very great. Thus the older direct flutes are also called straight, à-bec, or beaked: these were made in different sizes, with different fundamental tones, and were then distinguished as discant, alto, tenor, and bass flutes. The transverse flute is also called traverse flute, flute douce, flauto traverse, flute traversière, German flute, cross-flute, etc. In the modern orchestra, besides the standard flute in C, the smaller size, called the octave or piccolo flute, is used; but in military bands several varieties are found, as the terz or tierce flute, and the fourth or quart flute, the fundamental tones of which are , and F respectively. The old flute d'armour was an alto flute, its fundamental tone being A. Organ-stops of a fluty tone are of two kinds, with stopped or with open pipes and belonging properly to the stopped diapason and the open diapason classes respectively (see diapason). Unfortunately, most of the names used for these stops either have no fixed and recognized meaning or are purely fanciful.
  • noun In organ-building, a flue-stop with open metal pipes of narrow measure and penetrating tone.
  • noun In music, an instrument of the pipe kind, in which the tone is produced by the impact of a current of air upon the edge of a hole in the side of a tube. See pipe, fife.
  • noun Specifically— In ancient music, a direct flute with a conical wooden tube having a varying number of finger-holes. Sometimes two tubes were attached to one mouthpiece.
  • noun In medieval music, one of a family of direct flutes, comprising treble, alto, tenor, and bass varieties, all having conical wooden tubes with several finger-holes. The modern flageolet and the penny whistle are derivatives of the treble kind.
  • noun In modern music, a transverse flute, having a conical or cylindrical wooden or metal tube with holes controlled in part by levers, and having a compass of about three octaves upward from middle C: also called the German flute. The change from the medieval direct flutes took place early in the eighteenth century. The best model for orchestral use was invented by Theobald Boehm in 1832. The piccolo-flute or piccolo is a flute giving toues an octave higher than the ordinary flute.
  • noun In organ-building, a stop with stopped wooden pipes, having a flute-like tone, usually of four-foot pitch.
  • noun In architecture, one of a series of curved furrows, usually semicircular in plan, of which each is separated from the next by a narrow fillet.
  • noun A similar groove in any material, as in a woman's ruffle.
  • noun In decorative art, a concave depression relatively long and of any form, the sides not necessarily parallel. Compare gadroon.
  • noun A kind of long, thin French roll.
  • noun A shuttle used in tapestry-weaving. A separate shuttle is employed for each color of which the woof is composed.
  • noun A tall and very narrow wine-glass, used especially for sparkling wines. Also called flute-glass.
  • noun A long vessel or boat, with flat ribs or floor-timbers, round behind and swelling in the middle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To play on, or as on, a flute; to make a flutelike sound.
  • noun A kind of flyboat; a storeship.
  • noun (Nav.) partially armed.
  • transitive verb To play, whistle, or sing with a clear, soft note, like that of a flute.
  • transitive verb To form flutes or channels in, as in a column, a ruffle, etc.
  • noun A musical wind instrument, consisting of a hollow cylinder or pipe, with holes along its length, stopped by the fingers or by keys which are opened by the fingers. The modern flute is closed at the upper end, and blown with the mouth at a lateral hole.
  • noun (Arch.) A channel of curved section; -- usually applied to one of a vertical series of such channels used to decorate columns and pilasters in classical architecture. See Illust. under Base, n.
  • noun A similar channel or groove made in wood or other material, esp. in plaited cloth, as in a lady's ruffle.
  • noun A long French breakfast roll.
  • noun A stop in an organ, having a flutelike sound.
  • noun a boring tool for piercing ebony, rosewood, and other hard woods.
  • noun an organ pipe having a sharp lip or wind-cutter which imparts vibrations to the column of air in the pipe.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun music A woodwind instrument consisting of a metal, wood or bamboo tube with a row of circular holes and played by blowing across a hole in the side of one end or through a narrow channel at one end against a sharp edge, while covering none, some or all of the holes with the fingers to vary the note played.
  • noun A glass with a long, narrow bowl and a long stem, used for drinking wine, especially champagne.
  • noun A helical groove going up a drill bit which allows the drilled out material to come up out of the hole as it's drilled.
  • noun architecture, firearms A semicylindrical vertical groove in a pillar, or a similar groove in a rifle barrel used to cut down the weight.
  • verb intransitive To play on a flute.
  • verb intransitive To make a flutelike sound.
  • verb transitive To utter with a flutelike sound.
  • verb transitive To form flutes or channels in (as in a column, a ruffle, etc.); to cut a semicylindrical vertical groove in (as in a pillar, etc.).


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

[Middle English floute, from Old French flaute, from Old Provençal flaüt, perhaps a blend of flaujol, flageolet (from Vulgar Latin *flābeolum; see flageolet) and laut, lute; see lute.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French flaute, from Provençal flaut, ultimately from three possibilities:


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  • A tall narrow wineglass, often used for champagne.

    April 6, 2015