Definition of xylophone in US English:



  • A musical instrument played by striking a row of wooden bars of graduated length with one or more small wooden or plastic mallets.

    • ‘The album opens with shimmering, aquatic xylophones before the drums crash in with a fractured march, and a woozy bass spills like a cloud of ink all over everything.’
    • ‘Dwarfed by a large screen on which there are projections of singing puppets and mind-numbing flash visuals, Manitoba bashes away on dual drum kits, keyboards, xylophones, melodicas and stringless guitars.’
    • ‘It's soft female harmonies layered on top of tinkling bells, xylophones and other gentle, celestial sounds.’
    • ‘Percussion is composed of sleigh bells, tambourine, xylophone and kettle drums.’
    • ‘Although I guessed that they didn't have their usual large scale entourage, the band was fleshed out nicely with an electric cello, violin, xylophone, bass, drums, guitars and various vintage synths.’
    • ‘Here the group combines trombone, a simplistic guitar line, and what sounds like either a marimba or a xylophone.’
    • ‘They were to be accompanied by two grand pianos played by musicians, as well as three xylophones, four bass drums, a gong, three aeroplane propellers, seven electric bells and a siren.’
    • ‘It is a simple ballad with a choirboy singing a melody over a xylophone and soft string orchestral backing.’
    • ‘By letting Declan use a range of musical instruments - everything from drums, xylophones and bongos to the piano and even his own voice - Angela enabled him to learn to communicate again.’
    • ‘The cozy empathy of those loopy, repetitive guitars and xylophones envelops you, wraps you in tenderness, gives you the quiet strength to face all the hoarse pain of the world again.’
    • ‘She played the tambourine, the xylophone, and the harmonica, all to our swooning hearts' delight.’
    • ‘Left behind are dry nipping ambient winds and sleepy-eyed guitars like so many tattered articles of clothing and in their place emerge woolly layers of banjo, children's xylophones, trumpets and home-recorded toy pianos.’
    • ‘Originally, it was scored for a phalanx of player pianos, buzzers, airplane propellers, xylophones, and a host of other percussion instruments.’
    • ‘Jim, a pupil of Smithy Bridge School, is not only a highly accomplished drummer owning his own drum kit, but also plays the xylophone, timpani, piano and accordion.’
    • ‘On Monoke, Chantler was using electronic devices to treat piano, guitar, xylophone and local Japanese instruments and arranging his sounds into complex structures.’
    • ‘Drums are a common instrument, as are wooden xylophones; bow harps; zithers; and the sanza, a small thumb piano fashioned from bamboo.’
    • ‘Dancing piano keys, stroking violins and cellos, tapping xylophones, beats, electronic elements… there's room for them all on this magnificent musical exhibition.’
    • ‘In ‘The Pulse’, for example, Kalahari drums and xylophones provide the backbeat for an urban rap narrative.’
    • ‘Percussion plays a major role, particularly what Grainger called ‘tuneful percussion,’ chimes, glockenspiels, tuned gongs, celestas, xylophones, and so on.’
    • ‘Over an aching vocal performance, Tipton swaddles Nilsson all in bells, oboes, glockenspiels, blurted brass, pizzicato'd violins, and xylophones, bidding an elongated adieu to pop's previously ornate design.’


Mid 19th century: from xylo- ‘of wood’ + -phone.