Cas"ta*nets, n. pl. [F. castagnettes, Sp. castaetas, fr. L. castanea (Sp. castaa) a chestnut. So named from the resemblance to two chestnuts, or because chestnuts were first used for castanets. See Chestnut.] Two small, concave shells of ivory or hard wood, shaped like spoons, fastened to the thumb, and beaten together with the middle finger; -- used by the Spaniards and Moors as an accompaniment to their dance and guitars.
The singular, castanet, is used of one of the pair, or, sometimes, of the pair forming the instrument.
The dancer, holding a castanet in each hand, rattles them to the motion of his feet.Moore (Encyc. of Music).
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