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

Examples of shamisen in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Hu blends the sounds of horsehead fiddle with electric guitars and drums; in Japan, Wagakki Band incorporates the traditional three-stringed shamisen into its blend of heavy rock. Chris Wheatley, Longreads, 20 Oct. 2022 His parents ran an establishment where women entertained guests by playing classical Japanese instruments like the three-stringed shamisen. Suryatapa Bhattacharya, WSJ, 8 Oct. 2020 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shamisen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 27 May. 2024.

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