"sacred poem or song," especially one expressing praise and thanksgiving, Old English psealm (West Saxon sealm; Anglian salm), partly from Old French psaume, saume, and partly from Church Latin psalmus, from Greek psalmos "song sung to a harp," originally "performance on stringed instrument; a plucking of the harp" (compare psaltes "harper"), from psallein "play on a stringed instrument, pull, twitch" (see feel (v.)).
Used in Septuagint for Hebrew mizmor "song," especially the sort sung by David to the harp and collected in the Old Testament Book of Psalms. Related: Psalmodize. After some hesitation, the pedantic ps- spelling prevailed in English, as it has in many neighboring languages (German, French, etc.), but English is almost alone in not pronouncing the p-.
"the Book of Psalms," Middle English sauter, psauter, from Old English saltere, psaltere, Old French sautier, psaltier, and directly from Church Latin psalterium "the songs of David," in secular Latin, "stringed instrument played by twanging," from Greek psaltērion "stringed instrument, psaltery, harp," from psallein "to pluck, play on a stringed instrument" (see psalm).
in Irish music, "harp tune of a sportive and animated character" [OED], 1790, of unknown origin, evidently not a native Irish word. According to OED, some suggest ultimate derivation from Latin plangere "to strike, beat" (from PIE root *plak- (2) "to strike"). See also Katrin Thier, "Of Picts and Penguins -- Celtic Languages in the New Edition of the OED," in "The Celtic Languages in Contact," 2007.
"percussion musical instrument in which tones are produced by blows of hammers upon stretched strings, the hammers being operated from a keyboard," 1803, from French piano (18c.), Italian piano, shortened forms of pianoforte (q.v.).
Essentially, the pianoforte is a large dulcimer with a keyboard ; but historically it replaced the clavichord and harpsichord, which were keyboard-instruments more akin to the harp than to the dulcimer. [Century Dictionary]
Piano wire "kind of strong steel wire used for strings of pianos," is attested from 1831. Piano-case "wooden box enclosing the mechanism of a piano" is by 1844.
type of ancient stringed instrument, the accompanying instrument for psalms, c. 1300, sautrie, from Old French psalterie (12c.) and directly from Latin psalterium "stringed instrument," from Greek psaltērion "stringed instrument," from psallein "play on a stringed instrument, pull, pluck" (see psalm).
From c. 1200 in English in Latin form salteriun. It was similar to a harp, but of different shape and means of obtaining resonance (having a sound-board behind and parallel with the strings). Related: Psalterial; psalterian.
Spelling with J- predominated from 16c. Replaced Old English Iudeas "the Jews," which is from Latin. As an offensive and opprobrious term, "person who seeks gain by sordid means," c. 1600. Jews' harp "simple mouth harp" is from 1580s, earlier Jews' trump (1540s); the connection with Jewishness is obscure, unless it is somehow biblical.
In uneducated times, inexplicable ancient artifacts were credited to Jews, based on the biblical chronology of history: such as Jews' money (1570s) "Roman coins found in England." In Greece, after Christianity had erased the memory of classical glory, ruins of pagan temples were called "Jews' castles," and in Cornwall, Jews' houses was the name for the remains of ancient tin-smelting works.
The Aeolian harp (the phrase is attested from 1791) was made of tuned strings set in a frame; passing breezes caused them to sound harmoniously. Another name for it was anemochord (1832). The ancient district of Aiolis in Asia Minor was said to have been named for the wind god, hence Aeolian also refers to one branch of the ancient Greek people.
winged monster of ancient mythology, late 14c., from Old French harpie (14c.), from Latin harpyia, from Greek Harpyia (plural), literally "snatchers," which is probably related to harpazein "to snatch" (see rapid (adj.)). Metaphoric extension to "repulsively greedy person" is c. 1400.
In Homer they are merely personified storm winds, who were believed to have carried off any person that had suddenly disappeared. In Hesiod they are fair-haired and winged maidens who surpass the winds in swiftness, and are called Aello and Ocypete; but in later writers they are represented as disgusting monsters, with heads like maidens, faces pale with hunger, and claws like those of birds. The harpies ministered to the gods as the executors of vengeance. ["American Cyclopædia," 1874]