One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
- archaic form of oboe
- ‘The hautbois or ‘highwood’ as the direct translation would have it, came to us through its stages of hautboy, dropping the ‘h’ and altering vowels to oboe.’
- ‘Other timbres no longer carry their original significance: cornets for dignitaries not high enough in rank to merit trumpets, hautboys for banquets, consorts of flutes or recorders for rituals of death and transfiguration.’
- ‘His power over his instrument is surprising; the tones he draws from it might be thought those of the sweetest flageolet and hautboy, and sometimes of the human voice.’
- ‘His voice had been likened to an oboe, the Elizabethan hautboy.’
- ‘Shakespeare's stage directions call for 'hautboys', the English form of the French hautbois, meaning literally 'high wood'.’
Mid 16th century: from French hautbois, from haut ‘high’ + bois ‘wood’.
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