"a lyric poem" (one suggestive of music or fit to be sung), 1580s, from French lyrique "short poem expressing personal emotion," from Latin lyricus "of or for the lyre," from Greek lyrikos "singing to the lyre," from lyra (see lyre). Meaning "words of a popular song" is first recorded 1876. Related: lyrics.
small instrument used to pluck the strings of a lyre or other stringed musical instrument, late 14c., from Latin plectrum (plural plectra), from Greek plēktron "thing to strike with" (pick for a lyre, cock's spur, spear point, etc.), from plēk-, root of plēssein "to strike" (from PIE root *plak- (2) "to strike").
Meaning "string of a musical instrument" is from 1660s (earlier this was cord). The geometry sense "straight line intersecting a curve" is from 1550s; figurative meaning "feeling, emotion" first attested 1784, from the notion of the heart or mind as a stringed instrument.
ancient king of Phrygia, 1560s; the name is of Phrygian origin. He was given by the gods the gift of turning all he touched to gold, but as this included his food he had to beg them to take it back again. Hence Midas touch (1883). But the oldest references to him in English are to the unrelated story of the ass's ears given him by Apollo for being dull to the charms of his lyre.
also balluster, "support for a railing" (commonly one that swells outward at some point), c. 1600, from French balustre (16c.), from Italian balaustro "small pillar," said to be from balausta "flower of the wild pomegranate," from Greek balaustion (which is perhaps of Semitic origin; compare Aramaic balatz "flower of the wild pomegranate"). The uprights had lyre-like double curves, which resembled the half-opened pomegranate flower.
"of or related to Orpheus or the doctrines attributed to him," 1670s, from Latinized form of Greek orphikos "pertaining to Orpheus," the legendary master musician of ancient Thrace, son of Eagrus and Calliope, husband of Eurydice, who had the power of charming all living things and inanimate objects with his lyre. His name is of unknown origin. In later times he was accounted a philosopher and adept in secret knowledge, and various mystic doctrines were associated with his name, whence Orphic mysteries, etc. (late 17c.). The earlier adjective was Orphean (1590s). Related: Orphism.
lute-like musical instrument, 1620s, from French guitare, which was altered by Spanish and Provençal forms from Old French guiterre, earlier guiterne, from Latin cithara, from Greek kithara "cithara," a triangular seven-stringed musical instrument related to the lyre, perhaps from Persian sihtar (see sitar).
In post-classical times, the ancient instrument developed in many varieties in different places, keeping a local variant of the old name or a diminutive of it. Some of these local instruments subsequently became widely known, and many descendants of kithara reached English in reference to various stringed, guitar-like instruments: citole, giterne (both early 14c.), gittern, cithern (1560s), cittern (1590s), cither (c. 1600), guitar, and zither.
Modern guitar also is directly from Spanish guitarra (14c.), which ultimately is from the Greek. The Arabic word is perhaps from Spanish or Greek, though often the relationship is said to be the reverse. The modern guitar is one of a large class of instruments used in all countries and ages but particularly popular in Spain and periodically so in France and England. Other 17c, forms of the word in English include guittara, guitarra, gittar, and guitarre.