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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]

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