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A stringed hurdy-gurdy


Probably onomatopoeia in imitation of the sound produced by the stringed instrument.[1] Compare obsolete hirdy-girdy (an uproar; noise).[2] Attested from the 1740s.[1][2]


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈhɜː.diˌɡɜː.di/, /ˌhɜː.diˈɡɜː.di/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈhɝː.diˌɡɝː.di/, /ˌhɝː.diˈɡɝː.di/
  • (file)


hurdy-gurdy (not comparable)

  1. (humorous) Sounding like the Swedish language.


hurdy-gurdy (plural hurdy-gurdies)

  1. (music) A stringed instrument that produces a droning sound by turning a handle that connects to a wheel that rubs against a rosined string, with a keyboard also used to alter the pitch of the string.
  2. (music) Synonym of street organ.
    • 1956 [1880], Johanna Spyri, Heidi, translation of original by Eileen Hall, page 83:
      He flung open the door, and found there only a ragged boy with a hurdy-gurdy on his back.
  3. (US, California) A water wheel with radial buckets, driven by the impact of a jet.
  4. (fishing, sailing) A winch, a windlass.
    • 2009, Keith McLaren, A Race for Real Sailors[1], page 20:
      A pair of oars, a small mast and sail, pen boards to contain the fish, a bailer, a water jar, a bait knife, a compass, a small wooden winch called a hurdy gurdy, a fish gaff, and the tubs, trawls, floats, and anchors used to set gear was all that was required to equip it.


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See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 hurdy-gurdy” in Merriam–Webster Online Dictionary.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Oxford English Dictionary, 1884–1928, and First Supplement, 1933.