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Alternative forms[edit]


Probably from strum; compare also humstrum.


strumstrum (plural strumstrums)

  1. (archaic, often derogatory) Any stringed musical instrument that is played with the fingertips, especially one considered to be foreign.
    • 1697, William Dampier, A New Voyage Round the World, London: James Knapton, Chapter 5, p. 127,[1]
      [] in the Churches belonging to Indian Towns they have all sorts of Vizards, and strange antick Dresses both for Men and Women, and abundance of Musical Hautboys and Strumstrums. The Strumstrum is made somewhat like a Cittern; most of those that the Indians use are made of a large Goad cut in the midst, and a thin Board laid over the hollow, and which is fastned to the Sides: this serves for the Belly; over which the Strings are placed.
    • 1728, George Carleton (attributed to Daniel Defoe), The Memoirs of an English Officer, London: E. Symon, p. 279,[2]
      Their Guitars, if not their Sole, are their darling Instruments, and what they most delight in: Tho’ in my Opinion our English Sailors are not much amiss in giving them the Title of Strum Strums.
    • 1769, Tobias Smollett, The History and Adventures of an Atom, London: Robinson and Roberts, Volume 1, p. 106,[3]
      [The orator’s] cry [] was a species of musick to the mob, as agreeable as the sound of a bagpipe to a mountaineer of North Britain, or the strum-strum to the swarthy natives of Angola.
    • 1876, Robert Browning, Pacchiarotto, and How He Worked in Distemper, London: Smith, Elder, p. 43,[4]
      Banjo Byron that twangs the strum-strum there—
    • 1903, Chester Bailey Fernald, “A Yarn of the Pea-Soup Sea” in Under the Jack-Staff, New York: Century, pp. 247-248,[5]
      They sent ashore for some Sing-Song girls, which, with the fellers that brought them, all night made the cabin thick with cigarettes and the stringing of a strum-strum.