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 Bring your lawn chairs, blankets and picnics to enjoy this free concert of jazz classics, with an emphasis on percussion. Sam Boyer, cleveland, 20 Aug. 2021 The instrumental ensemble creates an eerie atmosphere, often with creepy harmonies and harmonics and strange percussive effects from everyone, not just percussion. Los Angeles Times, 16 Aug. 2021 Attendees are welcome to bring their percussion instruments to participate in this interactive workshop., 2 Aug. 2021 High frequencies are generally well-defined, and while things like cymbals and other percussion instruments can sometimes feel a little tucked away, that’s truly nit-picking — generally the high-end sounds great. Christian De Looper, BGR, 27 July 2021 The pair manage all this over a beat that flips no less than three times, bouncing from 808s to cascading flutes and thick, stuttering percussion. Alex Suskind,, 27 Aug. 2021 Think of a great orchestra, with its different sections—the brass, the strings, percussion, winds. Sara L. Schneider, Robb Report, 23 Aug. 2021 Around his trumpet, as foreground and background coalesced, there might be drone tones, global percussion, wind or string ensembles, washes of synthesizer, samples, distorted guitar, voices and more. New York Times, 27 June 2021 The track sounds like all of these places too, fusing African percussion, Brazilian rhythms and good old Florida synth into a sophisticated, joyfully energized vibe. Billboard Staff, Billboard, 28 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for percussion

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

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Last Updated

11 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Percussion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on percussion

Nglish: Translation of percussion for Spanish Speakers

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


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