1A flute; (originally and chiefly) an end-blown flute, a recorder; (later occasionally) a transverse flute. Also: the part in a musical composition played on such an instrument. Now chiefly historical, or in contexts relating to the performance of early music.
For information on the development of these instruments, see the note at "flute".
2In the names of various organ stops having a tone resembling that of a flute or recorder.
Recorded earliest in flauto traverso.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in Short Explication of Foreign Words in Musick Books. From Italian flauto flute.