Word for Wednesday: Guitar

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For the month of May, we have chosen musical instruments as the theme for our Word for Wednesday posts. 

The word music entered English in the thirteenth century as ‘musike’ via the Old French ‘musique’ and the Latin ‘musica’ meaning ‘music or poetry’. ‘Musica’ is from the Greek ‘mousikÄ“’ which means ‘art of the muses’. 

Last week we looked at the word piano and today we will be looking at the word guitar.

A guitar is a stringed instrument with curved sides and a fretted fingerboard. It usually has six or twelve strings which are plucked or strummed (using fingers or a plectrum) to make sounds.

The word entered English in the 1620s from the Old French ‘guitare’ (which is a Spanish alteration of the earlier Old French ‘guiterre’). It comes from the Latin ‘cithara’, which in turn comes from Greek ‘kithara’ The  ‘cithara’ was a triangular stringed instrument related to the lyre. It is possible ‘kithara’ comes from the Persian ‘sihtar’ which is also the root of ‘sitar’ – a lute-like stringed instrument. ‘Sitar’ comes from ‘si’ meaning ‘three’ and ‘tar’ meaning 'string'.


13 May 2020
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