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

  • n. Music A pear-shaped, two-stringed or three-stringed medieval instrument, played with a bow.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An early three-stringed instrument, somewhat like a simple violin.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An instrument formerly used which somewhat resembled the violin, having three strings, and being played with a bow.
  • n. A contemptuous term applied to an old woman.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A musical instrument, the earliest known form of the viol class.
  • n. An old woman: so called in contempt. Compare ribibe, 2.


French, from Old French, alteration (influenced by bec, beak, from its shape) of rebebe, from Old Provençal rebeb, from Arabic rabāb, from rabba, to be master, control; see rbb in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French rebec, alteration of rubebe. (Wiktionary)



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  • "...ancient instruments (the ramsinga, the oliphant, the Roman bugle, the lute, the rebec, the aeolian harp, Solomon's harp)..." p 108

    November 24, 2007