One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An obsolete bass brass instrument with keys, used in bands in the 19th century but superseded by the tuba.
- ‘After early lessons on the ophicleide, an instrument for which he seems to have shown little aptitude, he turned to the flute, studying with Kuhlau.’
- ‘Happily, the ophicleide is much more predictable than the serpent, and it is possible to show a fairly typical fingering pattern that will work with most examples of the instrument.’
Mid 19th century: from French ophicléide, from Greek ophis ‘serpent’ + kleis, kleid- ‘key’.
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