zith·​er ˈzi-t͟hər How to pronounce zither (audio) -thər How to pronounce zither (audio)
: a stringed instrument having usually 30 to 40 strings over a shallow horizontal soundboard and played with pick and fingers
zitherist noun

Illustration of zither

Illustration of zither

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Arman said that at some point his father taught himself to play the Santoor, a Persian instrument akin to a zither or a hammered dulcimer. Tom Teicholz, Forbes, 31 Dec. 2022 Leontovych’s more dramatic works emulated the tradition of the Kobzars, the Ukrainian bards and history bearers who accompanied themselves on the bandura, a multistringed plucked instrument similar to a zither. New York Times, 13 May 2022 Elsewhere, the film rests on the shoulders of Lyle Vincent’s refined cinematography, Michael Abels’ playful zither score and Blackk’s inquisitive performance as an artist trying to make sense of uncertain times through his art. Tomris Laffly, Variety, 25 Jan. 2023 At a large Asian American community picnic in Griffith Park in the early 1970s, Kuramoto spotted June Okida playing the koto, a zither-like instrument that typically has 13 strings. Los Angeles Times, 29 Oct. 2022 Zikina, the world music band consisting of guitarist and percussionist Mike Cardozo, bassist Roston Kirk, drummer Kade Parkin and Uganda instrumentalist Gideon Ampeire, who has built his own zither and thumb piano. Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant, 8 Sep. 2022 The video itself begins with a playful nod to traditional Korean culture as Jisoo plucks out a melody from the zither while wearing a contemporary spin on the hanbok crafted by the next-generation couturier Miss Sohee, and Cartier jewelry. Liam Hess, Vogue, 19 Aug. 2022 Modern readers are more intelligent, but just for the stragglers, a zither is a flat, stringed instrument, like a guitar with a shallower sound box and no neck. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Aug. 2022 The Girl with the Flaxen Hair between themselves, vocalist Alexander scraped a baby-blue hair pick along the strings of a dulcimer (a type of zither) and all three clacked hair straighteners and threw curlers at each other, among other actions. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 20 Oct. 2020 See More

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

Word History


German, from Old High German zitara, cithara, from Latin cithara cithara — more at cither

First Known Use

1831, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of zither was in 1831

Dictionary Entries Near zither

Cite this Entry

“Zither.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zither. Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a stringed instrument with thirty to forty tuned strings that are plucked with the fingers or with a pick

More from Merriam-Webster on zither

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