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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Edison perfected and patented everything from the first phonograph player in 1877 to the first practical light bulb in 1879.
▪ Even so, the Graphophone mouthpiece was not much more sensitive than that of the tinfoil phonograph.
▪ For example, in 1987 there was a $ 630 million domestic market for phonographs.
▪ From either end of the plaza blaring phonographs played in disharmony.
▪ It was therefore natural to test the phonograph as if it were taking down shorthand.
▪ Radios, phonographs and pinups were forbidden.
▪ The other principle, bigger cylinders, was less successful, mainly because existing phonographs could not cope with it.
▪ There was no electricity, no plumbing, no telephone, no wireless, no phonograph, no nothing.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Phonograph \Pho"no*graph\, n. [Phono- + -graph.]

  1. A character or symbol used to represent a sound, esp. one used in phonography.

  2. (Physics) An instrument for the mechanical registration and reproduction of audible sounds, as articulate speech, etc. It consists of a rotating cylinder or disk covered with some material easily indented, as tinfoil, wax, paraffin, etc., above which is a thin plate carrying a stylus. As the plate vibrates under the influence of a sound, the stylus makes minute indentations or undulations in the soft material, and these, when the cylinder or disk is again turned, set the plate in vibration, and reproduce the sound.

  3. an instrument for reproducing sounds, especially music, previously recorded on a plastic cylinder or disk as a pattern of bumps or wiggles in a groove. A needle (stylus) held in the groove is made to vibrate by motion (rotation) of the recording, and the vibrations caused by the bumps and wiggles are transmitted directly to a membrane, or first to an electronic amplifier circuit, thereby reproducing with greater or less fidelity the original sounds. A phonograph which is equipped with electronics enabling the playback of sound with high fidelity to the original is often called a hi-fi.

    Note: In the 1990's such devices are beginning to be replaced in many homes by compact disk players; the production of plastic recordings of music for playback on a phonograph has almost ceased for entertainment purposes.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1835, "character representing a sound," literally "writer of sounds," from phono- "sound" + -graph "instrument for recording; something written." Meaning "an instrument that produces sounds from records" (talking phonograph, invented by Thomas A. Edison) it is attested from 1877. The recording made from it at first was called a phonogram (1879).


n. 1 Literally, a device that captures sound waves onto an engraved archive; a lathe. 2 (context British historical English) A device that records or plays sound from cylinder records. 3 (context North America English) ''Early term for'' a record player. 4 (context dated English) A character or symbol used to represent a sound, especially one used in phonography. vb. 1 (context transitive dated English) To record for playback by phonograph. 2 (context transitive dated English) To transcribe into phonographic symbols.


n. machine in which rotating records cause a stylus to vibrate and the vibrations are amplified acoustically or electronically [syn: record player]


The phonograph is a device invented in 1877 for the mechanical recording and reproduction of sound. In its later forms it is also called a gramophone (as a trademark since 1887, as a generic name since c. 1900). The sound vibration waveforms are recorded as corresponding physical deviations of a spiral groove engraved, etched, incised, or impressed into the surface of a rotating cylinder or disc, called a "record". To recreate the sound, the surface is similarly rotated while a playback stylus traces the groove and is therefore vibrated by it, very faintly reproducing the recorded sound. In early acoustic phonographs, the stylus vibrated a diaphragm which produced sound waves which were coupled to the open air through a flaring horn, or directly to the listener's ears through stethoscope-type earphones. In later electric phonographs (also known as record players (since 1940s) or, most recently, turntablesNames "record player" and "turntable" have gradually become synonymous, however the second one is better associated

with devices requiring separate  amplifiers and/or  loudspeakers. Originally, the term "turntable" referred to the part of phonograph's mechanism providing rotation of the record.), the motions of the stylus are converted into an  analogous electrical signal by a  transducer called a  pickup or cartridge (colloquially called the "needle"), electronically amplified with a  power amplifier, then converted back into sound by a  loudspeaker.

The phonograph was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. While other inventors had produced devices that could record sounds, Edison's phonograph was the first to be able to reproduce the recorded sound. His phonograph originally recorded sound onto a tinfoil sheet wrapped around a rotating cylinder. A stylus responding to sound vibrations produced an up and down or hill-and-dale groove in the foil. Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory made several improvements in the 1880s, including the use of wax-coated cardboard cylinders, and a cutting stylus that moved from side to side in a "zig zag" groove around the record.

In the 1890s, Emile Berliner initiated the transition from phonograph cylinders to flat discs with a spiral groove running from the periphery to near the center. Later improvements through the years included modifications to the turntable and its drive system, the stylus or needle, and the sound and equalization systems.

The disc phonograph record was the dominant audio recording format throughout most of the 20th century. From the mid-1980s on, phonograph use on a standard record player declined sharply because of the rise of the cassette tape, compact disc and other digital recording formats. Records are still a favorite format for some audiophiles and DJs. Vinyl records are still used by some DJs and musicians in their concert performances. Musicians continue to release their recordings on vinyl records. The original recordings of musicians are sometimes re-issued on vinyl.

Usage examples of "phonograph".

Saint stood unflinchingly, Amity clinging aghast to his arm, Warlock lifted the record and went through the dramatic gesture of smashing it against the corner of the phonograph.

But there was no vibration whatever, The sound was therefore a purely mechanical one, reproduced on a phonograph record to deceive Lifer Stone and frighten him into talking.

Walking by the cottage, Norman could hear the phonograph and the barking dog, and he could sometimes see Iris shadowily moving inside.

A bottle of white fluid sat on the table by the phonograph, and on a smaller table on her other side a swinging rack cradled a gallon of muscatel, tiltable for pouring.

Witnesses were convicted under a statute which forbade the unlicensed soliciting of funds on the representation that they were for religious or charitable purposes, and also on a general charge of breach of the peace by accosting in a strongly Catholic neighborhood two communicants of that faith and playing to them a phonograph record which grossly insulted the Christian religion in general and the Catholic church in particular.

Except for his clothes, they were the last throwable things Dugan might have used to damage the phonograph and records.

For instance, what did the original, unrevised formula have in place of the phonograph needle?

June the phonograph record came - shipped from Brattleboro, since Akeley was unwilling to trust conditions on the branch line north of there.

The phonograph was a Capehart and the albums included a little bit of every-thing from Bunny Berrigan to J.

It came from an odd-shaped, clocklike instrument that rested on a large recording phonograph.

On one of his last trips to Europe he brought back the first phonograph with a trumpet speaker, along with many of the latest popular records as well as those by his favorite classical composers.

I told her that she was to have all the papers in the safe, and all the papers or diaries and phonographs we might hereafter use, and was to keep the record as she had done before.

The phonograph He picked up Halvorsens Entrance of the Boyards at random and slipped it into place, closing the lid.

Among the trees, upon a lawn, someone had cranked up a portable phonograph and now it was playing softly, "I'll be loving you, always, with a love that's true, always.

The descrambler, which must have an identical disk precisely synchronized with that of the scrambler, subtracts the phonograph signal out, leaving the voice.