the·​re·​min ˈther-ə-mən How to pronounce theremin (audio)
: a purely melodic electronic musical instrument typically played by moving the hands in the electromagnetic fields surrounding two projecting antennae

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web But the theremin remains just one facet of Lev Termen’s prodigious output. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 31 Oct. 2019 Musician Alexandra Stepanoff plays the theremin on NBC radio in 1930. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 31 Oct. 2019 In 2020, Moog released the Claravox Centennial, its modern interpretation of the theremin from 1919. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 6 Dec. 2022 The Garbo movement opens with the sounds of the otherworldly ondes Martenot, a kind of French theremin with a keyboard. Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2022 Yet, in last summer’s six-part series, the Norse god of mischief (Tom Hiddleston) is also playing with time, which suggested more unusual sounds: the wailing of a theremin and its equally eerie French cousin, the ondes Martenot. Jon Burlingame, Variety, 5 June 2022 Theremin’s device also inspired Robert Moog, an American inventor who built his own theremin at age 14 by copying drawings found in a hobbyist magazine, per Smithsonian. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Dec. 2020 The confused cat does not seem to realize it’s playing a theremin—and neither does its feline audience watching the performance in awe. Melissa Locker, Time, 11 Mar. 2020 This meditative piece worked best when the mood was quiet and undulating, especially in the passage in high harmonics near the end, so otherworldly in sound, almost like a theremin. Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2020 See More

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

Word History


modification of Russian termen-voks from Lev Sergeevich Termen (Léon Thérémin) †1993 Russian engineer & inventor + Latin vox voice

First Known Use

1927, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of theremin was in 1927

Dictionary Entries Near theremin

Cite this Entry

“Theremin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

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