"oboe, double-reeded woodwind instrument," 1570s, from French hautbois "high wood" (15c.; see oboe, which is the Italian phonetic spelling of the French word). The haut is used here in its secondary sense of "high-pitched." In early use frequently nativized as hoboy, hawboy, etc.
This Pageaunt waz clozd vp with a delectable harmony of Hautboiz, Shalmz, Coronets, and such oother looud muzik. [Robert Laneham, 1575]
"wooden, double-reeded wind instrument, 1724, from Italian oboe, from phonological spelling of French hautbois (itself borrowed in English 16c. as hautboy), from haut "high, loud, high-pitched" (see haught) + bois "wood" (see bush (n.)). So called because it had the highest register among woodwind instruments. Also compare shawm. Related: Oboist (by 1830). "The tone is small, but highly individual and penetrating; it is especially useful for pastoral effects, for plaintive and wailing phrases, and for giving a reedy quality to concerted passages." [Century Dictionary]
It forms all or part of: abolish; adolescent; adult; alderman; aliment; alimony; Alma; alma mater; alt (2) "high tone;" alti-; altimeter; altitude; alto; alumnus; auld; coalesce; elder (adj., n.1); eldest; Eldred; enhance; exalt; haught; haughty; hautboy; hawser; oboe; old; proletarian; proliferation; prolific; world.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek aldaino "make grow, strengthen," althein, althainein "to get well;" Latin alere "to feed, nourish, suckle; bring up, increase," altus "high," literally "grown tall," almus "nurturing, nourishing," alumnus "fosterling, step-child;" Gothic alþeis, Dutch oud, German alt "old;" Gothic alan "to grow up," Old Norse ala "to nourish;" Old Irish alim "I nourish."
"single-reeded tubular woodwind instrument with a bell mouth," 1768, from French clarinette (18c.), diminutive of clarine "little bell" (16c.), noun use of fem. of adjective clarin (which also was used as a noun, "trumpet, clarion"), from clair, cler, from Latin clarus (see clear (adj.)). Alternative form clarionet is attested from 1784.
The instrument, a modification of the medieval shawm, is said to have been invented c. 1700 by J.C. Denner of Nuremberg, Germany, and was a recognized orchestral instrument from c. 1775. The ease of playing it increased greatly with a design improvement from 1843 based on Boehm's flute.
After the hautboy came the clarinet. This instrument astonished every beholder, not so much, perhaps, on account of its sound, as its machinery. One that could manage the keys of a clarinet, forty five years ago, so as to play a tune, was one of the wonders of the age. Children of all ages would crowd around the performer, and wonder and admire when the keys were moved. [Nathaniel D. Gould, "Church Music in America," Boston, 1853]
German Clarinet, Swedish klarinett, Italian clarinetto, etc. all are from French. Related: Clarinettist.