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A learned alteration of Middle English sauterie, sautrie (rarely psautry), from Old French psalterie, from Latin psaltērium, from Ancient Greek ψαλτήριον (psaltḗrion, stringed instrument, psaltery, harp), from ψάλλω (psállō, to touch sharply, to pluck, to pull, to twitch” and in the case of the strings of musical instruments, “to play a stringed instrument with the fingers, and not with the plectron). Doublet of psalter, psalterion, and psalterium.



psaltery (plural psalteries)

  1. (music) A zither-like musical instrument consisting of a soundboard with multiple strings, played by plucking the strings with the fingers or a plectrum.
    Synonyms: psalterion, psalterium, (archaic or obsolete) psalter
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Nehemiah 12:27:
      And at the dedication of the wall of Ieruſalem, they ſought the Leuites out of all their places, to bꝛing them to Ieruſalem, to keepe the dedication with gladneſſe, both with thankeſgiuings and with ſinging, with cymbals, pſalteries, and with harpes.

Usage notesEdit

In the King James Version of the Bible, "psaltery" is used as a translation for certain words whose referent isn't known: the Hebrew כְּלִי‎ (kli) and נֵבֶל‎ (nével), and the Aramaic פְּסַנְתֵּרִין‎ (psanterín).

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