cal·​li·​ope | \ kə-ˈlī-ə-(ˌ)pē How to pronounce calliope (audio) , in sense 2 also ˈka-lē-ˌōp How to pronounce calliope (audio) \

Definition of calliope

1 capitalized : the Greek Muse of heroic poetry
2 : a keyboard musical instrument resembling an organ and consisting of a series of whistles sounded by steam or compressed air

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With a name literally meaning "beautiful-voiced" (from kallos, meaning "beauty," and ops, meaning "voice"), Calliope was the most prominent of the Muses—the nine sister goddesses who in Greek mythology presided over poetry, song, and the arts and sciences. She is represented in art as holding an epic poem in one hand and a trumpet in the other. The musical instrument invented and patented in the 1850s, played by forcing steam or compressed air through a series of whistles, was named after the goddess. Because its sound could be heard for miles around, the calliope was effective in luring patrons to river showboats, circuses, and carnivals, which is why the instrument continues its association with such attractions today.

Examples of calliope in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The distinctive, merry sounds of a steam calliope float through the streets of downtown Baraboo, Wisconsin. Chicago Tribune Staff, Chicago Tribune, 21 July 2022 But the fair website said drive-thru exhibits included old fire trucks, livestock and a calliope. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 23 Oct. 2020 The haunting calliope music by jazz pianist Jason Moran is based on African American protest and celebration songs. Doug Maccash,, 23 Feb. 2018 Music will be provided by Irish musicians, a Chinese instrumental group and an old-fashioned calliope. Katharina Woodman, The Mercury News, 20 Sep. 2019 Since it was invented in the 19th century, calliopes have been associated with riverboats and traveling circuses -- the instrument's sounds were deemed too harsh and too loud for the liturgical settings for which it was created. Pelican Bomb,, 7 Mar. 2018 History unfolds in a circus of tweets and surprises, with Mr. Trump playing all the roles: roaring lion and trapeze artist, clown and calliope. Lance Morrow, WSJ, 22 June 2018 His ideas here duke it out for attention with collage effects reminiscent of Charles Ives and Luciano Berio, including fragmented bits of folk fiddle, circus calliope, Wagnerian climaxes, and an endless variety of outbursts from the organ. David Patrick Stearns,, 12 Jan. 2018 Just as the calliope music entices young children to chase such trucks on summer streets, the burly Bearcats swarmed around the vendor as if Earth's last cones were being served. Scott Springer,, 16 Aug. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'calliope.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of calliope

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for calliope

Latin, from Greek Kalliopē

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The first known use of calliope was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Calliope.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on calliope

Nglish: Translation of calliope for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about calliope


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