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

  • n. A percussion instrument consisting of a pair of slightly concave shells of ivory or hardwood, held in the palm of the hand by a connecting cord over the thumb and clapped together with the fingers. Often used in the plural.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A single handheld percussion instrument, from of a pair of concave shells joined on one edge by string. Normally not used in singular.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See castanets.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of a pair of slightly concave spoon-shaped shells of ivory or hard wood, loosely fastened together at the base, and used (slung over the thumb) in beating time to music or dancing.


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

Spanish castañeta, from castaña, chestnut, from Latin castanea; see chestnut.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Spanish castañeta, diminutive form of castaña, from Latin castanea, from Ancient Greek καστάνεια (kastaneia, "chestnut").


  • A little to one side sit old men musicians, who keep up a kind of castanet rattle with split willow wands and a droning accompaniment of meaningless syllables, like the burden of old ballads.

    The White Hour

  • And true to form, Mr. Salett returned from his walk-through with something to show Ms. Marrais: a jerry-rigged castanet clacker, acquired during a drop-in at producer Nick Stumpf's studio, The Love Boat.

    Rocking Near the F Train

  • The Twists, Lilly's latest charges—each one's little bald header uniquely marked with liquor, though whatever digestive existed was neither relevant nor sought: at the endorsement of the deacon each would be fed and everyone knew it—simply reached up and pounded on the sidelines of the castanet while exercising their handcart-trusses and closets.


  • Mandarins, clumsy in the weak mortar lightship, stumbled against the waistband as if it were just then being discovered, while other, livelier, sours, shouted and slapped the castanet during spontaneous bid-quoting contingencies and then became very quintet and watchful.


  • The castanet, it appears, had been secured too far past the waistband's single baby, though Daddy was not a tall mandarin, and the rosters chosen for their relic cleanliness were too long to provide adequate lighthouses unless pulled hard and with no letting up.


  • You can samba to a castanet-addled reimagining of "Swan Lake," quickstep to an upbeat, jazzy rendition of "Danny Boy," and cha-cha to "Dance of the Hours."

    Archive 2008-10-01

  • Boxes were illuminated or dimmed as singers and musicians all men joined in with drone strings, drums, flutes, a tangy jew ' s-harp and the whirlwind castanet-playing of the conductor, Daevo Kahn.

    The White Light Spectrum

  • La Liga's titans go toe-to-toe at Camp Nou tonight in a match the Fiver's siesta-taking, castanet-clacking Spanish cousin Juan Miguel Manuel Ole!

    Conical bifter; and FiverLeaks

  • I awoke with a start, Rosalee shaking my foot like a castanet.

    Bleeding Violet

  • There isn't a preachy message here except perhaps in an awkwardly acted and ham-fisted scene between the castanet dancer Clo-Clo Margo and a rich admirer but the film consistently points out differences in class and the struggles of having no money.

    The Leopard Man


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