per·​cus·​sion | \ pər-ˈkə-shən How to pronounce percussion (audio) \

Definition of percussion

1 : the act of percussing: such as
a : the striking of a percussion cap so as to set off the charge in a firearm
b : the beating or striking of a musical instrument
c : the act or technique of tapping the surface of a body part to learn the condition of the parts beneath by the resultant sound
2 : the striking of sound on the ear
3 : percussion instruments that form a section of a band or orchestra

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Other Words from percussion

percussion adjective

Examples of percussion in a Sentence

He plays percussion for the band. The marimba is a percussion instrument.

Recent Examples on the Web

The audience is invited to feel the beat in an interactive body percussion segment. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Summer arts 2019 | Dance: PGK Dance Project, Mojalet Dance Collective, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet and more," 16 June 2019 For while Benshoof leaned toward orchestral transparency and lightness, Stephenson summoned an enormous orchestra with an array of percussion effects. Howard Reich,, "CSO review: Orchestra's soloists step into the spotlight," 14 June 2019 Rosene, a former Illinois State University instructor, transformed his love of the percussion devices into a business at his east Orange County home. Lisa Maria Garza,, "For some, handbells are a passion and not just for churches anymore," 6 June 2019 At last season’s Eckhaus Latta show, Brian Chippendale, one half of seminal noise band Lightning Bolt, led a percussion pit made up of screaming children. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Meet the Producer Behind New York Fashion Week’s Coolest Soundtrack," 13 Feb. 2019 Shortly before the piece ends, unexpected percussion bursts and delicate piano tracery push the music toward an eerie landscape—a musical equivalent of magical realism. Allan Kozinn, WSJ, "‘Aequa’ by the International Contemporary Ensemble, ‘He(a)r’ by Nordic Affect and ‘Collider’ by Daníel Bjarnason Reviews," 18 Dec. 2018 As Peter Margasak pointed out in his recent feature on Third Coast Percussion, classical percussion ensembles are a relatively recent phenomenon. Bill Meyer, Chicago Reader, "Do This / Music Percussionist Bill Solomon celebrates a new CD with an hour of bells and bowed bronze," 23 May 2018 Drummer Andy Peake, singer/guitarist Rick Huckaby, guitarist Kenne Cramer, bassist Tom Szell and percussion Bryan Brock round out Big Shoes’ lineup., "Cool things to do in Huntsville, Feb. 4 - 10," 4 Feb. 2018 His roots, on the other hand, come from a comprehensive knowledge of Cuban percussion and contemporary dancehall, dembow, reggaeton and Latin house music. August Brown,, "SXSW looks to the past and future with Todd Rundgren, Cuco and DJ Jigue," 17 Mar. 2018

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

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First Known Use of percussion

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for percussion

Middle English, from Anglo-French percussioun, from Latin percussion-, percussio, from percutere to beat, from per- thoroughly + quatere to shake

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Statistics for percussion

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for percussion

The first known use of percussion was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for percussion



English Language Learners Definition of percussion

: musical instruments (such as drums, cymbals, or xylophones) that you play by hitting or shaking


per·​cus·​sion | \ pər-ˈkə-shən How to pronounce percussion (audio) \

Kids Definition of percussion

: the musical instruments (as drums, cymbals, and maracas) that are played by striking or shaking

Other Words from percussion

percussion adjective


per·​cus·​sion | \ pər-ˈkəsh-ən How to pronounce percussion (audio) \

Medical Definition of percussion

1 : the act or technique of tapping the surface of a body part to learn the condition of the parts beneath by the resulting sound
2 : massage consisting of the striking of a body part with light rapid blows

called also tapotement

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More from Merriam-Webster on percussion

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with percussion

Spanish Central: Translation of percussion

Nglish: Translation of percussion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of percussion for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about percussion

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