noun \gə-ˈtär, gi-, especially Southern & Midland also ˈgi-ˌtär\

: a musical instrument that is held against the front of your body and that has usually six strings which are played with your fingers or with a pick

Full Definition of GUITAR

:  a flat-bodied stringed instrument with a long fretted neck and usually six strings played with a pick or with the fingers
gui·tar·ist \-ist\ noun

Illustration of GUITAR

Origin of GUITAR

French guitare, from Spanish guitarra, from Arabic qītār, from Greek kithara cithara
First Known Use: 1668

Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Features of a modern acoustic guitar.—© Merriam-Webster Inc.

Plucked stringed instrument. It normally has six strings, a fretted fingerboard, and a soundbox with a pronounced waist. It probably originated in Spain in the early 16th century. By 1800 it was being strung with six single strings; 19th-century innovations gave it its modern form. Modern classical guitar technique owes much to Francisco Tárrega (1852–1909), and Andrés Segovia gave the instrument prominence in the concert hall. However, it has always been primarily an amateur's instrument, and it remains an important folk instrument in many countries. The 12-string guitar is strung in six double courses. The Hawaiian, or steel, guitar is held horizontally and the strings are stopped by the pressure of a metal bar, producing a sweet glissando tone. The electric guitar represented a major development. Electric pickups were attached to the acoustic guitar in the 1920s. In the 1940s Les Paul invented the solid-body guitar; lacking a soundbox, it transmits only the string vibrations. With its long-sustained notes, affinity for strong amplification, and capacity for producing wailing melodic lines as well as harshly percussive rhythms, it soon became the principal instrument of Western popular music.


Next Word in the Dictionary: guitar–fiddle
Previous Word in the Dictionary: guisquil
All Words Near: guitar

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up guitar? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).