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). The name reached English several times, including giterne (early 14c., from Old French), in reference to various stringed, guitar-like instruments; the modern word is also 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. Compare zither, gittern.
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