Definition of castanets in English:


plural noun

  • Small concave pieces of wood, ivory, or plastic, joined in pairs by a cord and clicked together by the fingers as a rhythmic accompaniment to Spanish dancing.

    • ‘Originally, these were danced to the accompaniment of singing and clapping only, with guitars and castanets added later.’
    • ‘Like the chaconne it originated in Latin America (where it was accompanied by song, castanets, and guitars) and appeared in Spain during the 16th century.’
    • ‘There was another set of timpani, another bass drum, side drums, castanets, two xylophones, and, if I recall correctly, tubular bells as well.’
    • ‘Other things get a look in too, for example castanets get clicked, fans get fluttered and shawls get twirled as well.’
    • ‘Instruments used in traditional Moroccan music include the tbal, a double-headed drum, and the querqbat, or metal castanets.’
    • ‘If you like your Spanish guitar music in tight trousers and with castanets clicking, this probably won't be to your taste.’
    • ‘The music is infused with Latin influence but retains mainstream tempo and rhythms - so no castanets but the laid back Spanish attitude of ‘mañana mañana’ is here in spades.’
    • ‘The mic was also nice on wooden percussion - claves, castanets, etc. - and hand claps and finger snaps.’
    • ‘She had managed to put together castanets with pieces of wood and string, which she need for the dance.’
    • ‘She clicks out a rhythm, simple enough, on her castanets.’
    • ‘In this showcase of the well known (but little understood) Latin dance form, we learn that flamenco is not just about castanets, señoritas in frilly gowns and fancy footwork.’
    • ‘If I had said Spanish, you'd have said something like guitar, castanets, bullfights and such.’
    • ‘The castanets of Spain have clicked seductively through many a French score, and Debussy can manage them as deftly as anyone.’
    • ‘Flutes, oboes, bagpipes, castanets, and other instruments hang with sheet music, a jester's staff, and a theatrical mask.’
    • ‘After the waltz-like opening the track does a quick U-turn into a castanet flavored jig before doing a quick hop on a drum roll that opens the door for a trumpet solo that runs the song out.’
    • ‘This should be a subtly sexy piece with flowing movement that acts as a counterpoint to the percussive orchestral castanets.’
    • ‘Drumming groups may also include a lively mix of castanets, beaten bells, and even wind instruments.’
    • ‘I dream about the colours, the smells, the sounds of castanets and guitars, of old Spanish men singing and women and children laughing and dancing…’
    • ‘Think of castanets, foot stamping, tambourines and bright silk costumes and you have a picture of the fandango, a sexually provocative, very popular, Spanish dance.’
    • ‘Somewhat like castanets, the dancer holds the pieces of bamboo in her hands and clicks them together, thus contributing to the musical quality and overall rhythmic effect of the performance.’


Early 17th century: from Spanish castañeta, diminutive of castaña, from Latin castanea ‘chestnut’.