Definition of sistrum in English:


Pronunciation /ˈsistrəm/ /ˈsɪstrəm/

See synonyms for sistrum

nounsistra, sistrums

  • A musical instrument of ancient Egypt consisting of a metal frame with transverse metal rods which rattled when the instrument was shaken.

    ‘Drums, sometimes very large, were important in Mesopotamian ritual, while the characteristic instrument of Egyptian ceremony was the sistrum or rattle.’
    • ‘Deacons sing and accompany the song with drums and a sistrum as part of the mass.’
    • ‘Two students composed a synthesized soundtrack that combined world beat rhythms with the beat of the sacred sistrum on every thrust of the harpoon.’
    • ‘The carved head that is on the handle of the sistrum, is Hathor, the goddess of music.’


Late Middle English via Latin from Greek seistron, from seiein ‘to shake’.