per·​cus·​sion | \pər-ˈkə-shən \

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 six male musicians, all wearing hats, combined song, percussion and strings with wonderful vitality. Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "Ballet Today, the Good and the Bad, on Display at the Joyce," 29 June 2018 Those two things don’t sound like they could be related, but her album has a twist: instead of writing all the songs herself, Southern used artificial intelligence to help generate percussion, melodies, and chords. Dani Deahl, The Verge, "How AI-generated music is changing the way hits are made," 31 Aug. 2018 Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, S.F. Breakfast with Enzo Drop in at anytime for two different sets of voice, accordion, guitar, banjo, jaw harp, ocarina, percussion and musical saw sing along fun for everyone. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Kids listings," 17 May 2018 Attired in white dresses, the singers proceeded in shifting formations from one end of the tunnel to the other, emitting ethereal timbres, playing chiming percussion, and scraping rocks against the walls. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Sonic Fury of the Ojai Music Festival," 24 June 2018 Eric Betts, drums and percussion, and Aaron Jellish, guitar, joined in 2010. Hannah Kirby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Suburban Milwaukee band The Cheap Shots celebrates 10 year anniversary at Wednesday Night Live July 11," 28 June 2018 The groove, the energy, the horns, the sound of people cheering, the Latin percussion? Ed Masley, azcentral, "Best World Cup songs of all time, from Ricky Martin and Shakira to 'Three Lions'," 27 June 2018 Unique Derique Comedy, body percussion. 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Fri., June 29., "Kids listings," 22 June 2018 Flint knapping is the production of stone tools with sharp edges created by percussion and pressure. Courant Community, "Community News For The Windham Edition," 15 May 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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Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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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 \

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 \

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

Comments on percussion

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living or existing for a long time

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