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

  • noun A stringed instrument of the harp family having two curved arms connected at the upper end by a crossbar, used to accompany a singer or reciter of poetry, especially in ancient Greece.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In pianoforte-making, the lyre-shaped frame to which the pedals are attached and through which the pedal-rods work.
  • The posterior portion of the under surface of the fornix of the brain, marked by a number of lines bearing a fancied resemblance to a lyre. Also called lyre of David or lyra Davidis.
  • noun An obsolete form of leer.
  • noun See lire.
  • noun In music
  • noun A stringed instrument of Egyptian origin, which became the national instrument of ancient Greece.
  • noun An element in the name of some instruments of the viol class, as the arm-lyre or lira da braccio, and the knee-lyre or lira da gamba. See lira.
  • noun A kind of metallic harmonica, mounted on a lyre-shaped frame, occasionally used in military music.
  • noun A kind of rebec used by the modern Greeks. See rebec.
  • noun [capitalized] A constellation. See Lyra, 1.
  • noun A verse of the kind commonly used in lyric poetry.
  • noun The Manx shearwater, Puffinus anglorum.
  • noun A grade of isinglass: a trade-name.

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

  • noun (Mus.) A stringed instrument of music; a kind of harp much used by the ancients, as an accompaniment to poetry.
  • noun (Astron.) One of the constellations; Lyra. See Lyra.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a small bat (Megaderma lyra), inhabiting India and Ceylon. It is remarkable for the enormous size and curious shape of the nose membrane and ears.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the leatherback.

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

  • noun A stringed musical instrument.

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

  • noun a harp used by ancient Greeks for accompaniment


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

[Middle English lire, from Old French, from Latin lyra, from Greek lura.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek λύρα (lyra, "lyre, a stringed instrument with a sounding-board formed of the shell of a tortoise")


  • Contradictories as _No centaurs play the lyre -- Some centaurs do play the lyre_; or _All unicorns fight with lions -- Some unicorns do not fight with lions_, are both meaningless, because in Zoology there are no centaurs nor unicorns; and, therefore, in this reference, the propositions are not really contradictory.

    Logic Deductive and Inductive

  • Thus the poet Melchior would never have consented to abandon what he called his lyre, to write a commercial prospectus or an electoral address.

    Bohemians of the Latin Quarter

  • Kinnor is more of a zither than a harp; therefore we render the word lyre, because only as lyres developed did harps result.

    Exposition of Genesis: Volume 1

  • When 'Omer smote' is bloomin 'lyre, He'd' eard men sing by land an 'sea; An' what he thought he might require, 'e went and took, the same as me.

    Kipling, The Poet of Empire

  • Each of these "Apollonian" instruments was historically referred to as a lyre and demanded attentive tuning: in the cabinet below the harp we find its tuning mechanism, whose tau-like shape evokes the spiritual temperament of the Franciscan Order. 309

    Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro

  • In the lower left, below the sack, was a type of harp called a lyre.

    The World Above

  • In the lower left, below the sack, was a type of harp called a lyre.

    The World Above

  • He was weak; it was his only fault, weak as the string of a lyre, which is so strong when it is taut.

    Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

  • His lyre was a fine old one of polished tortoiseshell, with arms of slender horn and a bridge of ivory.

    The Praise Singer

  • [364-20] A poet or musician is said to sing, and the lyre is the instrument with which the ancients accompanied their songs.

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 6


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  • Interesting usage on harp.

    November 3, 2008

  • I left my harp in San Francisco.

    March 13, 2009

  • Lyre, lyre, pants on fyre.

    March 13, 2009

  • I've been thinking about getting a lyre tattoo. And found this neat article.

    March 13, 2009

  • The harp the monarch minstrel swept,

    The King of men, the loved of Heaven,

    Which Music hallow'd while she wept

    O'er tones her heart of hearts had given,

    Redoubled be her tears, its chords are riven!

    It soften'd men of iron mould,

    It gave them virtues not their own;

    No ear so dull, no soul so cold,

    That felt not, fired not to the tone,

    Till David's lyre grew mightier than his throne!

    - Lord Byron, 'The Harp the Monarch Minstrel Swept'.

    September 30, 2009