1. A narrow, often hourglass-shaped stringed instrument having three or four strings and a fretted fingerboard, typically held flat across the knees while sitting and played by plucking or strumming. Also called Appalachian dulcimer, mountain dulcimer.
2. The hammered dulcimer.
[Alteration (influenced by Latin dulcis, sweet) of Middle English doucemer, from Old French doulcemer, variant of doulcemelle, from Medieval Latin dulce melos : Latin dulce, neuter of dulcis, sweet + Latin melos, song (from Greek; see MELISMA).]
(click for a larger image)dulcimer
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.