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

  • n. A musical instrument with a single reed, finger holes, and a bell and mouthpiece made of horn.
  • n. A spirited British folk dance originally accompanied by this instrument.
  • n. The music accompanying such a dance.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A musical instrument consisting of a wooden pipe, with holes at intervals.
  • n. A solo dance commonly associated with seamen, involving kicking of the legs, with the arms mostly crossed.
  • n. A hard-shoe solo dance commonly performed in Irish stepdance, usually danced in 2/4 time.
  • n. Music played to the hornpipe dance
  • v. To dance the hornpipe.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An instrument of music formerly popular in Wales, consisting of a wooden pipe, with holes at intervals. It was so called because the bell at the open end was sometimes made of horn.
  • n. A lively tune played on a hornpipe, for dancing; a tune adapted for such playing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A musical instrument formerly used in England and Wales, perhaps the precursor of the English horn.
  • n. An English country-dance of varied and hilarious character, usually performed by one person, and very popular among sailors.
  • n. Music for such a dance or in its style.

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

  • n. a British solo dance performed by sailors
  • n. music for dancing the hornpipe
  • n. an ancient (now obsolete) single-reed woodwind; usually made of bone


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

So called because the bell at the open end was sometimes made of horn.


  • Howsomdever, my lady, if you and the young ladies and Sir Henry please, and Miss Julia will just strike up a bit of a tune, I'll shuffle my feet about and show you what we call a hornpipe at sea.

    True Blue

  • Modern urban legend or traditional Celtic myth, there is a popular belief rumored from person to person by way of legend saying that a certain hornpipe melody has the ability to attract Nessie to the surface, however only a few people that know the music are still alive today.

    SciFi, Fantasy & Horror Collectibles - Part 618

  • Something about a cat (Jenny?) who lived in a Firehouse and danced the hornpipe was the first chapter book.

    Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » No Politics Thread

  • Though the dance through the streets to a special kind of hornpipe, in at the front doors and out at the back, is still continued, the old spirit that actuated it is dead -- it has become very much of a make-believe, a show for visitors, a galvanised custom that might as well be decently buried.

    The Cornwall Coast

  • When several of these fish take it into their heads to dance a "hornpipe," as the sailors have termed their gambols, at the distance of half a mile they, especially at or just after sun-down, may easily be mistaken for the sharp points of rocks sticking up out of the water, and the splashing and foam they make and produce have the appearance of the action of the waves upon rocks.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 17, No. 470, January 8, 1831

  • Pickles was so delighted with his own success that he danced a kind of hornpipe all the way home.

    Sue, A Little Heroine

  • At first they marched up and down, playing tunes exactly like the regimental bands of the Turks, and then commenced dancing a species of "hornpipe," blowing furiously all the while.

    The Discovery of the Source of the Nile

  • ~116~~of thorough-breds, driven tandem, which were now (their irascible tempers being disturbed by the delay which my usurpation of the road had occasioned) relieving their feelings by executing a kind of hornpipe upon their hindlegs.

    Frank Fairlegh Scenes From The Life Of A Private Pupil

  • The salty references continue, in a flash of hornpipe and the dancers 'blue and white striped costumes – but once Petronio has climbed up to a crow's nest to watch his work set sail, it becomes obvious that the voyage will be musical, choreographic and emotional rather than literal.

    Stephen Petronio Company – review

  • Hugh Jackman could have been stage dancing the hornpipe with Magda Szubanski in the nude and I would have barely noticed…plus I had some dodgy pork in the Valley previously which may explain why I was feeling a little churlish.

    Cheeseburger Gothic » Teddy Bears’ Picnic.


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  • "An English country-dance of varied and hilarious character, usually performed by one person, and very popular among sailors."

    --Cent. Dict.

    October 23, 2012