Are we psaltrists, psalterists or psalterers or what????

I was sending Richard a message today and I used the term psaltrist. At that point it dawned on me that I had no idea how a psaltery player would be referred to other than as a "psaltery player". and other searches found nothing for psaltrist, psalterist, psalterer or psaltress. There were a couple casual references using psaltrist and psalterer, but nothing that leads me to believe there is a specific suffix used for psaltery players. provided this:


a suffix of nouns, often corresponding to verbs ending in -ize or nouns ending in -ism, that denote a person who practices or is concerned with something, or holds certain principles, doctrines, etc.: apologist; dramatist; machinist; novelist; realist; socialist; Thomist.

-ess  (I had to throw this in for the ladies)
a suffix forming distinctively feminine nouns: countess; goddess; lioness.
1. a suffix used in forming nouns designating persons from the object of their occupation or labor (hatter; tiler; tinner; moonshiner), or from their place of origin or abode (Icelander; southerner; villager), or designating either persons or things from some special characteristic or circumstance (six-footer; three-master; teetotaler; fiver; tenner).
2. a suffix serving as the regular English formative of agent nouns, being attached to verbs of any origin (bearer; creeper; employer; harvester; teacher; theorizer).

Does anyone have any other information? What have you heard people use?

Maybe we should just decide for ourselves...after all, if we use it long enough the "dictionary" will eventually add it : )

A flute player would be a flautist not a flauterer (giggle) and a piano player a pianist not a


So, which do you think is correct or just plain prefer?

1. Psaltrist

2. Psalterist

3. Psalterer

4. Donna needs a life because nobody cares : )

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Comment by Gary Hicks on February 20, 2010 at 9:45am
How about Psalty Dogs?
Comment by Donna Malus on February 9, 2010 at 7:26pm
Dave, GREAT STORY!!! You are a musician, writter and a commedian : )
And I do kind of like the term psaltesaurus. Have we included psaltician anywhere yet?
As my very "corny" Father used to say "Call me anything you want, just don't call me late for dinner!"
Comment by Donna Malus on February 9, 2010 at 7:21pm
Psalterians, kinds of like Martians : ) And zither reminds me of slither, which makes me think of snakes, which definately starts to take a cultish turn !!!! As long as we aren't called Bowed Slitherers YUCK
Comment by John Henry Charles Crocker on February 9, 2010 at 4:33pm
Dave, are you taking this as seriously as you might................................?Hope you are doing OK, JohnH
Comment by Dave Holeton on February 9, 2010 at 2:08pm
Ok, there was originally just a bowed psalterer and a fiddler. Then they were joined by a guitarist and a dulcimist who also invited their flautist friend. Then the pianist showed up after she got in a fight with the mandolynist, who was busy on his cell phone with the banjoist who was taking lessons to become a drummer. Then a bowed psaltrist and a bowed psalterist joined and the party really took off, you shoulda' seen it! The harpist and the cellist became engaged, the accordianist got a job on the Lawrence Welk show, and all the ist's went down the road feeling glad. The er's are still working on it but want to add the didjeriduers, the bullroarerers, and the gum-leafers before they will be satisfied.

Sorry, I lost it again there for a minute. I still think 1 through 3 are probably considered acceptable in a musically correct discussion.

Comment by Greg (Grego) Dana on February 9, 2010 at 8:54am
I kind of like "psaltesaurus", although "salterista" has a nice dash of picante, no?
In any event, don't ever let word out that we could be referred to as "bowed zitherists". Sounds way too much like some wacky medieval cult.
Comment by Rick Long on February 9, 2010 at 6:17am
I guess I would prefer bowed psalterist, no idea if it's correct. I just like the sound of it. If I tell someone what I play, and don't have one with me, I just explain it as a cousin of the dulcimer that is played using a bow. A bowed psaltery is hard to describe in just a few words.

I guess I have to also like Dave's "Psalteryman", as that's what I go by on Yahoo and Youtube.
Comment by Donna Malus on February 8, 2010 at 8:40pm
LOL, thanks for the laugh! As a sailor (or is it sailoress, sailorer, sailorette...) I think I'm partial to number 10, but number 11 pleases my palate!
It didn't take me long to learn that the most common response when you tell people you play a bowed psaltery is:

Comment by Dave Holeton on February 8, 2010 at 8:13pm
I never thought of it before. I can throw some others in to the mix that you left out.

5. Psalteryman
6. Psalterywoman
7. Psalterette (feminine of psalterer?)
8. Psaltery dog
9. Psaltery cat
10. Old Psalt-er
11. Garlic Psalter

Ok, I have drifted. I think either 1, 2, or 3 would be correct. Number 1 is okay because psaltery is also spelled psaltry and I might expect psaltrist to be derived from that form. I think number 3 looks like something I have seen in old writings some where (Michael Praetorious?). Guitar players are called guitarists, so number 2 is probably okay also.

If I was introducing myself to a group as a psaltery player and if I thought about it in advance, I think I would prefer psalterer. No matter which word I would use, I would have to explain what it means and maybe even spell it (like I do when I answer "It's a bowed psaltery, spelled p-s-a-l-t-e-r-y"). Us psalterers are still kind of a rare group of musicians.

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