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

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

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

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,, "This calliope performance was meant to be disturbing," 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, "Did an Ancient Greek Anticipate Trump?," 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,, "Philadelphia Orchestra Brit fest opens on a wild note (cue the hyenas) with MacMillan's 'Scotch Bestiary'," 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,, "Cincinnati Bearcat football gets welcome August visitor," 16 Aug. 2017 The calliope is playing on the Mark Twain riverboat while visitors cheer the frog-jump competition. Paul Meincke,, "ABC7 reporter Paul Meincke finds adventure and angels on epic Mississippi canoe trip," 10 Aug. 2017 Such as Saturday morning’s Double Take Parade, in which costumed twins and their family members walk alongside themed floats as an old calliope plays carnival tunes. Emma Ockerman, Washington Post, "Double the pleasure, double the fun. At Twins Days, an Ohio town revels in its quirky past.," 6 Aug. 2017 Calliope Popolizio died at an area hospital from injuries from the crash at the intersection of State Road 50 and Fifth Street in Clermont, Sgt. Krista Torralva,, "89-year-old woman identified as victim in Clermont crash," 2 Aug. 2017 Calliope music blared from the kiddie rides just a few hundred feet from the area where bleating sheep were being judged for best in show. Suzanne Baker, Naperville Sun, "County fair a throwback to DuPage's agricultural past," 28 July 2017

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.

See More

First Known Use of calliope

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for calliope

Latin, from Greek Kalliopē

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about calliope

Listen to Our Podcast about calliope

Statistics for calliope

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for calliope

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on calliope

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with calliope

Spanish Central: Translation of calliope

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

Comments on calliope

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


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!