Definition of uillean pipes in US English:

uillean pipes

plural noun

  • Irish bagpipes played resting on the knee using bellows worked by the elbow, and having three extra pipes on which chords can be played.

    • ‘Maddy will be joined on stage by Nick Holland on keyboards and Troy Donockley on uillean pipes, guitar, cittern and whistle.’
    • ‘With superb vocals, harmonies and the magical sound of Jarlath's uillean pipes and low whistle, the lads can play anything from Tom Jones to Moving Hearts.’
    • ‘Although the uillean pipes work well as a droning shadow of Smith's complex lines, especially when combined with Bancroft's thumping bodhrán, it's hard to fight off visions of Riverdancing tourists.’
    • ‘‘Irish airs, the uillean pipes - music like that affects me physically,’ she said.’
    • ‘Finbar soon joined in the sessions with his favourite instrument, the uillean pipes, matching Eddie's guitar playing and his father's fiddle mastery.’
    • ‘At the forefront of the Irish traditional music scene, along with the likes of Altan and Sligo's own Dervish, this critically-acclaimed five-piece offer a unique blend of fiddle, flute, uillean pipes and guitar.’


Early 20th century: from Irish píob uilleann, literally ‘pipe of the elbow’.


uillean pipes