sham·​i·​sen ˈsha-mə-ˌsen How to pronounce shamisen (audio)
variants or less commonly samisen
: a 3-stringed Japanese musical instrument resembling a banjo

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The music is grand and has an anthemic quality to it, and the composers include instruments that are seldom used in games, especially indie titles like this one, like the shamisen and saxophone. Jonathan Peltz, Wired, 7 Apr. 2021 Much of the excitement of this hour—both for viewers and the characters themselves—was in recognizing the clone character under the pancake makeup, or in hearing a familiar tune rendered in shamisen. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 20 May 2018 During the course of an evening, a geisha or meikko engages in skillful conversation before transitioning to play a three-stringed instrument called a shamisen. Sery Kim, Fox News, 15 June 2017 These delicate, highly ritualized pieces are performed in elaborate costume and makeup, to the accompaniment of flute, drums, chanting, and the banjo-like shamisen. The New Yorker, 31 Mar. 2017

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

Word History



First Known Use

1864, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shamisen was in 1864

Dictionary Entries Near shamisen

Cite this Entry

“Shamisen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

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