Definition of hurdy-gurdy in English:



  • 1A musical instrument with a droning sound played by turning a handle, which is typically attached to a rosined wheel sounding a series of drone strings, with keys worked by the left hand.

    • ‘A dance that probably originated in the Auvergne, where it was accompanied by such folk instruments as the musette or the hurdy-gurdy.’
    • ‘Leopold Mozart, when he wasn't raising his son Wolfgang Amadeus, wrote several concert works for unusual instruments, including the bagpipes and the hurdy-gurdy.’
    • ‘Traditional folk instruments include the bandura, a variety of flutes, various fiddles and basses, drums and rattles, the bagpipe, the hurdy-gurdy, the Jew's harp, and the hammered dulcimer.’
    • ‘The instrument is a hurdy-gurdy, a pear-shaped fiddle having strings that are sounded not by a bow but by the rosined rim of a wooden wheel turned by a handle at the instrument's end.’
    • ‘The four-piece Quebecois band will be bringing hurdy-gurdies, fiddles, accordions, guitars, and lots of toe-tapping reels and two-steps to the stage, along with waltzes and ballads that will surely help you shake off the cold.’
    1. 1.1informal A barrel organ.


Mid 18th century: probably imitative of the sound of the instrument.