sax·​o·​phone ˈsak-sə-ˌfōn How to pronounce saxophone (audio)
: one of a group of single-reed woodwind instruments usually ranging from soprano to bass and characterized by a conical metal tube and finger keys
saxophonic adjective
ˈsak-sə-ˌfō-nist How to pronounce saxophone (audio)
 especially British  sak-ˈsä-fə-

Illustration of saxophone

Illustration of saxophone

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The album also features longtime UMO member Jake Portrait and Ruban’s father, Chris Nielson, on saxophone and flute. Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 2 Feb. 2023 Janae McCloud didn’t always know how to read music perfectly, or the technicalities of playing the alto saxophone. Corinne Dorsey, Washington Post, 26 Nov. 2022 Kohn was a sophomore in November 1982, playing saxophone. Ron Kroichick, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Nov. 2022 Puente served in the Navy during World War II, playing alto saxophone as the ship’s bandleader, along with over ten other instruments. Veronica Villafañe, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2022 In 1965, Sanders joined Coltrane’s group on tenor saxophone. Mitchell Peters, Billboard, 24 Sep. 2022 Next we are ushered outside to a magnificent patio where we are entertained by a band that features a guy-singer with a man bun who also plays the saxophone. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, 21 June 2022 Jake Clemons, the group’s saxophone player, missed the gig due to Covid but Ed Manion filled in for the evening. Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone, 17 Feb. 2023 Besides the mesmerizing Hameen, the band includes Rodney Jones on guitar, T.K. Blue on saxophone, Nat Reeves on bass and Zaccai Curtis on piano. Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant, 28 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History


French, from Antoine-Joseph (or Adolphe) Sax †1894 Belgian instrument maker + French -phone

First Known Use

1851, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of saxophone was in 1851

Dictionary Entries Near saxophone

Cite this Entry

“Saxophone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


sax·​o·​phone ˈsak-sə-ˌfōn How to pronounce saxophone (audio)
: a musical instrument of the woodwind class consisting of a usually curved metal tube with finger keys and a reed mouthpiece
saxophonist noun

named for Antoine "Adolph" Sax 1814–1894 a Belgian maker of musical instruments

More from Merriam-Webster on saxophone

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