type of modern metal musical instrument played through a reeded mouthpiece (originally meant as a more sonorous substitute for the clarinet in military bands), 1851, from French saxophone, named for Antoine Joseph "Adolphe" Sax (1814-1894), Belgian instrument maker who devised it c. 1840, + musical-instrument ending ultimately from Greek phōnē "voiced, sounding" (see -phone).
His father, Charles Joseph (1791-1865) invented the less popular saxhorn (1844) in the trumpet family, also meant for military bands. The surname is a spelling variant of Sachs, Sacks, literally "Saxon." Related: Saxophonist.
updated on August 29, 2022