Gurdypedia

Documenting the curious world of the hurdy-gurdy.

What’s in a name?

The hurdy-gurdy is the 18th Century English slang term for the instrument, but it is known by a whole variety of terms in English as well as other languages.  Here is what I’ve stumbled across:

Dutch

  • Draailier [turning lyre]

English

  • Beggar’s lyre
  • Crank lyre
  • Cymphan [16th Century]
  • Hurdy-gurdy [18th Century slang]
  • Organistrum [Earliest form of the instrument]
  • Symphon(y)(ie)(ia) [Normally referring to simple box-shaped instrument]
  • Wheel fiddle

Finnish

  • Kampiliira

French

  • Chifonie [Normally referring to simple box-shaped instrument]
  • Vielle
  • Vielle à roue

German

  • Bauernleier [peasant’s lyre]
  • Bettlerleier [beggar’s lyre]
  • Drehleier [turning lyre]
  • Radleier

Hungarian

  • Forgolant [turning lute]
  • Nyenyere [slang]
  • Tekerőlant or Tekerő [turning lute]

Italy

  • Ghironda
  • Lira mendicorum
  • Lira organizzara [18th C hurdy-gurdy with organ pipes and bellows]
  • Lira pagana
  • Lira tedesca
  • Lira rustica
  • Lira tedesca
  • Stampella
  • Viola da orbo

Latvian

  • Rata lira

Norway

  • Fon
  • Synfony

Polish

  • Lira korbowa [crank lyre]

Slovakian

  • Kolovratec 
  • Ninera

Scots

From Dictionary of Scots Language via posting from Geoff Turner here:

DSL - DOST Symphio(u)n, n. Also: sumphion. [Altered form of ME symphan (Manning), symfan (c1330), e.m.E. cymphan (1509), OF simphoine (OED), f. as SYMPHONY n.] = SYMPHONY n. a. —- Psaltery symphion & claroun … Befor the barne all playit thai; Seven S. 2523. Symphioun; ROLLAND Seven S. 627. Jhonn Robertsoun, thesaurer, to by and delyuer to John Mowatt, blindman, ane symphioun to play vpoun; 1582 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 564. —- With instruments melodious, The seistar and the sumphion [etc.]; BUREL Queen’s Entry 137

Spanish

  • Sanfona
  • Viola de rueda
  • Zanfona

Swedish

  • Lira 
  • Nykelharpa [similar, but played with a bow]
  • Vevlira

Ukrainian

  • Lira/ліра
  • Relia
  1. gurdypedia posted this