ˈsäm How to pronounce psalm (audio)
ˈsȯlm How to pronounce psalm (audio)
often capitalized
: a sacred song or poem used in worship
especially : one of the biblical hymns collected in the Book of Psalms

Examples of psalm in a Sentence

after the sermon we sang a brief psalm
Recent Examples on the Web A little less than half these psalms are attributed to King David, about a third are anonymous, and the rest are attributed to a variety of authors. Christine Rousselle, Fox News, 29 Oct. 2023 Psalm 40 was one of the psalms composed by King David, according to Jim Showers, DMin. EMERGENCY PRAYERS FOR ‘PEACE OF JERUSALEM’ FROM RABBI BEAR WEIGHT OF YEARS AND HISTORY: ‘GOD BLESS ISRAEL' Showers is the executive director of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, based in New Jersey. Christine Rousselle, Fox News, 29 Oct. 2023 David was also reputed to be a talented harpist and the author of many psalms, or devotional songs. V.m. Braganza, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Aug. 2023 And there’s Vivaldi’s Nisi Dominus again, and with no knob to turn or button to press for silence, the psalm’s exquisite ache unfurls. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Sep. 2023 Just as May’s coronation ceremony gave nods to the multicultural nature of Britain today, Wednesday’s church service will include a psalm sung in Gaelic. Danica Kirka, USA TODAY, 5 July 2023 Across town, as the sun began to set, hundreds of community members gathered at a baseball diamond to light candles, recite psalms, and share memories of the victims. Steven Porter,, 7 June 2023 At Ansche Chesed, a Conservative synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky has replaced the standard prayer for the State of Israel with a more spiritual psalm invoking peace in Jerusalem. Jonathan Weisman, New York Times, 20 Apr. 2023 In a nod to the origin of psalms — which the release notes were originally hymns meant to be sung rather than spoken — Seven Psalms represents a call-back to the genesis of folk music in King David’s Psalms. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 12 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Old English psealm, from Late Latin psalmus, from Greek psalmos, literally, twanging of a harp, from psallein to pluck, play a stringed instrument

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of psalm was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near psalm

Cite this Entry

“Psalm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a sacred song or poem
capitalized : one of the hymns that make up the Old Testament Book of Psalms

Old English psealm "psalm," from Latin psalmus (same meaning), from Greek psalmos "psalm," literally, "twanging of a harp," from psallein "to pluck, play a stringed musical instrument"

Word Origin
The Greek word psallein originally meant "to pull" or "to pluck." It then came to be used with the meaning "to play a stringed musical instrument." From this verb came the noun psalmos, which literally meant "the twanging of a harp." Since harp music often accompanied singing, psalmos took on the meaning of "a song sung to harp music" and later simply "a song or poem." It was borrowed into Latin as psalmus and came into English as psalm.

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