: a small transverse flute with six to eight finger holes and usually no keys

Examples of fife in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Tarrant turned the second-story apartment into a broader historical museum, with numerous war artifacts, including his great grandfather’s diaries and sketches from the Civil War, along with his drum and fife. Susan Glaser, cleveland, 10 Aug. 2023 His supporters, some dressed as American Revolution-era patriots and playing fifes, were thrilled by Ramaswamy’s turn in the spotlight Wednesday night. Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 24 Aug. 2023 Audiences are not always sure what to expect from a fife and drum corps comprised of young people. Jan Crawford, CBS News, 29 May 2023 That initial group of 16 Italian musicians who arrived from Catania in 1805 largely left the service before their three-year contacts were up (though future Marine Band leader, fife and drum major Venerando Pulizzi, was among their ranks). Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2023 The Heat are a bandaged fife-and-drum brigade at this point. Dave Hyde, Sun Sentinel, 28 May 2022 The musical anachronist is also adept at a variety of suitably ancient instruments such as the fife and quills, and he’s even issued a single on wax cylinder., 22 July 2021 There was cannon fire, fife troupes populated with high school band students, and long orations about the importance of remembering the past. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 26 Jan. 2023 Reenactors dressed in Revolutionary War uniforms fired salutes, and a fife and drum corps played music. Dorvall Bedford, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fife.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


German Pfeife pipe, fife, from Old High German pfīfa, from Vulgar Latin *pipa pipe — more at pipe

First Known Use

1539, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fife was in 1539

Dictionary Entries Near fife

Cite this Entry

“Fife.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a small high-pitched musical instrument resembling a flute

Geographical Definition


geographical name

variants or Fifeshire
administrative area of eastern Scotland between the Firth of Tay and the Firth of Forth area 509 square miles (1319 square kilometers), population 365,198

More from Merriam-Webster on fife

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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