TO GUITAR LYRES
The word guitar was first used in a 1637 translation of Horace's Art of Poetry. Obviously, there were no modern-day guitars in classical Rome; at the time, the word probably referred to a lute, or was just a fanciful translation. Guitar comes from Spanish guitarra, which reflects the instrument's origin in fifteenth-century Iberia. Before that, it might come from Arabic qitara, but it definitely (either directly or indirectly) derives from Latin cithara, which described a lyre-like instrument used primarily in Ancient Greece (this also gave us the word zither). In the original Greek, that was kithara, and it's probably Proto-Indo-European because of a cognate with sihtar, the Persian etymon of the word sitar. The portmanteau keytar is from 1979 and the rare verb to guitar was first used in 1816.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.