Etymology
Advertisement
oboe (n.)

"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]

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
hautboy (n.)

"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]
Related entries & more 
*al- (2)
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to grow, nourish."

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."
Related entries & more 
A 

first letter of the Roman alphabet, based on Greek alpha (see alpha). In music from c. 1600 as the name of the sixth note of the natural scale; it is the note given by a fixed-tone instrument (usually oboe or organ) to which all the instruments of an orchestra are tuned. As a blood type, 1926, denoting A agglutinogens. The A side of a two-sided record (by 1962, see side (n.)) held the material chosen for promotion. A-bomb, short for atom bomb, was in newspaper headlines by Aug. 8, 1945.

Related entries & more 
shawm (n.)
"medieval oboe-like instrument," mid-14c., schalmeis (plural), also schallemele (late 14c.), from Old French chalemie, chalemel, from Late Latin calamellus, literally "a small reed," diminutive of Latin calamus "reed," from Greek kalamos "reed, grass-stalk," often metaphoric of objects made of reed ("flute of reed, fishing rod, reed pen," etc.). Mistaken as a plural and trimmed of its "-s" ending from mid-15c. Related: Shawmist.

The Greek word is from PIE *kole-mo- "grass, reed," source also of Old English healm, Old High German halm "straw;" Latin culmus "stalk;" Old Prussian salme "straw," Latvian salms; Russian soloma. Sanskrit kalama- "writing reed," Arabic qalam are said by Beekes to have been borrowed from the Greek word.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement