Definition of clef in English:



  • Any of several symbols placed at the left hand end of a stave, indicating the pitch of the notes written on it.

    • ‘Guidelines for clefs, key signatures, bar-lines, and notes are similarly drawn in.’
    • ‘He also said the pianist may benefit from singing or playing individual parts, especially when there are transposing parts or those that use transposing clefs.’
    • ‘For one thing, he himself tells us that he had learned all the old clefs before he was 12.’
    • ‘On the man's upper left arm is an image of the grim reaper playing a red guitar below a man playing a guitar in the shape of a musical clef.’
    • ‘In the upper corner of a forest, a staff-appears with G or F clef and one note, and the options are CDEFG.’


Late 16th century: from French, from Latin clavis ‘key’.