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

Instead, listeners saw a group expanded to nearly symphonic dimension, with strings, vocalists, brass, percussion and more. Howard Reich,, "Jazz Fest review: Cecile McLorin Salvant tops an exuberant weekend," 1 Sep. 2019 Featuring musical arrangements composed for dance, song, guitar, and percussion. Lisa Herendeen, The Mercury News, "S.F. Bay Area calendar: Greek festival, comedy and more," 25 Aug. 2019 In addition to the bass drum, Bobby played piano, keyboard, guitar, and percussion., "Robert P. Cormier," 31 July 2019 The musicians -- students from Bangkok's Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music -- warm up, the sounds of brass, strings, woodwinds and percussion filling the air. Karla Cripps, CNN, "Meet the rebel Thai composer taking music to unheard heights," 10 July 2019 Burrell, for example, played guitar in the school's stage band and percussion in the concert band and studied bass with Cabrera. Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press, "'Jazz from Detroit': Exclusive excerpt from new book about city's remarkable jazz legacy," 30 June 2019 The Catherine Street Consort will play period music and country dance tunes using a full family of recorders, along with guitar and percussion. Baltimore Sun,, "Darlington kicks off Harford's Independence Day celebrations with parade, fireworks on June 29," 26 June 2019 Today, more than 400 do and the program has expanded beyond strings to include brass, winds and percussion. Charles Passy, WSJ, "Holiday Tradition: Five Decades of Student Debuts at Carnegie Hall," 26 Dec. 2018 Acoustic and electronic instruments, from cello to guitar, violin and percussion. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Ludovico: The piano’s quiet rock star talks about his first Houston concert," 11 July 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

13 Sep 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

Comments on percussion

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


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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