Deutsches Museum (121282543).jpg
Various lutes
Hornbostel–Sachs classification321.321-5
(Composite chordophone sounded by the bare fingers)
DevelopedClassical antiquity (early lutes)Middle Ages (modern lutes)
Related instruments

A lute (t/)[1] is any plucked string instrument with a neck (either fretted or unfretted) and a deep round back enclosing a hollow cavity, usually with a sound hole or opening in the body. More specifically, the term "lute" can refer to an instrument from the family of European lutes. The term also refers generally to any string instrument having the strings running in a plane parallel to the sound table (in the Hornbostel–Sachs system). The strings are attached to pegs or posts at the end of the neck, which have some type of turning mechanism to enable the player to tighten the tension on the string or loosen the tension before playing (which respectively raise or lower the pitch of a string), so that each string is tuned to a specific pitch (or note). The lute is plucked or strummed with one hand while the other hand "frets" (presses down) the strings on the neck's fingerboard. By pressing the strings on different places of the fingerboard, the player can shorten or lengthen the part of the string that is vibrating, thus producing higher or lower pitches (notes).

The European lute and the modern Near-Eastern oud descend from a common ancestor via diverging evolutionary paths. The lute is used in a great variety of instrumental music from the Medieval to the late Baroque eras and was the most important instrument for secular music in the Renaissance.[2] During the Baroque music era, the lute was used as one of the instruments which played the basso continuo accompaniment parts. It is also an accompanying instrument in vocal works. The lute player either improvises ("realizes") a chordal accompaniment based on the figured bass part, or plays a written-out accompaniment (both music notation and tabulature ("tab") are used for lute). As a small instrument, the lute produces a relatively quiet sound. The player of a lute is called a lutenist, lutanist or lutist, and a maker of lutes (or any similar string instrument, or violin family instruments) is referred to as a luthier.


The words lute and oud possibly derive from Arabic al-ʿoud (العود - literally means "the wood"). It may refer to the wooden plectrum traditionally used for playing the oud, to the thin strips of wood used for the back, or to the wooden soundboard that distinguished it from similar instruments with skin-faced bodies.[3]

Many theories have been proposed for the origin of the Arabic name. A music scholar by the name of Eckhard Neubauer suggested that oud may be an Arabic borrowing from the Persian word rōd or rūd, which meant string.[4][5] Another researcher, archaeomusicologist Richard J. Dumbrill, suggests that rud came from the Sanskrit rudrī (रुद्री, meaning "string instrument") and transferred to Arabic and European languages by way of a Semitic language.[6] However, another theory according to Semitic language scholars, is that the Arabic ʿoud is derived from Syriac ʿoud-a, meaning "wooden stick" and "burning wood"—cognate to Biblical Hebrew 'ūḏ, referring to a stick used to stir logs in a fire.[7][8] Henry George Farmer notes the similarity between al-ʿūd and al-ʿawda ("the return" – of bliss).[9]

Other Languages
العربية: عوديات
asturianu: Laúd
беларуская: Лютня
български: Лютня
català: Llaüt
čeština: Loutna
Cymraeg: Liwt
dansk: Lut
Deutsch: Laute
eesti: Lauto
español: Laúd
Esperanto: Liuto
estremeñu: Ud
euskara: Laute
فارسی: لوت (ساز)
français: Luth
Frysk: Lút
Gaeilge: Liúit
galego: Laúde
한국어: 류트
հայերեն: Լյուտնյա
hrvatski: Lutnja
Ido: Liuto
italiano: Liuto
עברית: לאוטה
қазақша: Лютня (аспап)
latviešu: Lauta
lietuvių: Liutnia
lumbaart: Liütt
magyar: Lant
македонски: Лејта
Nederlands: Luit
日本語: リュート
norsk: Lutt
norsk nynorsk: Lutt
occitan: Laüt
polski: Lutnia
português: Alaúde
română: Lăută
русский: Лютня
Simple English: Lute
سنڌي: بربط
slovenčina: Lutna
slovenščina: Lutnja
српски / srpski: Лаута
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Lutnja
suomi: Luuttu
svenska: Luta
ไทย: ลูต
Türkçe: Lavta
українська: Лютня
walon: Lute
中文: 魯特琴