Definitions

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

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A crank or windlass used by halibut-fishermen for hauling trawls in deep water where the strain is very heavy.

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

  • noun 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.
  • noun In California, a water wheel with radial buckets, driven by the impact of a jet.

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

  • adjective humorous Sounding like the Swedish language.
  • noun music 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.
  • noun music A barrel organ.
  • noun US, California A water wheel with radial buckets, driven by the impact of a jet.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Imitative.]

Examples

Comments

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

    April 13, 2007

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

    April 13, 2007

  • I think both forms are acceptable.

    April 13, 2007

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

    April 13, 2007

  • "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

  • 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

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

    July 2, 2012