Definition of psaltery in English:



  • An ancient and medieval musical instrument like a dulcimer but played by plucking the strings with the fingers or a plectrum.

    • ‘King Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone that at the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, psaltery, dulcimer and all kinds of music they should fall down and worship the golden image.’
    • ‘Visbec watched him from the back of the wagon, where he was fitfully fixing a broken string on his psaltery.’
    • ‘The angels are playing a collection of musical instruments, including the harp, tambourine, cymbals, lyre and psaltery.’
    • ‘Some of the Jaufre Rudel pieces are unaccompanied too, but even those in which the psaltery or harp make an appearance use these instruments most sparingly.’
    • ‘The double psaltery had two ranks of strings, one on either side of the soundbox.’


Middle English sautrie, from Old French sauterie, from Latin psalterium (see psalter).