There are 2 main definitions of fife in English:


Line breaks: fife
Pronunciation: /fʌɪf


A kind of small shrill flute used with the drum in military bands.
More example sentences
  • The air came alive with the shrill whistling of the fifes, and the drums began pounding in rhythm with my heart.
  • Other events at the castle included 24 drummers who gave a special display involving drums, bugles and fifes, and an appearance of the Richmond Drummer boy, an important part of local legend.
  • The band is made up of a stringed guitar, drum, and fife.


[no object] archaic Back to top  
Play the fife.
More example sentences
  • His deep interest in Irish culture and music prompted his research into the Lambeg drumming and fifing traditions of Ulster.


mid 16th century: from German Pfeife 'pipe', or from French fifre from Swiss German Pfifer 'piper'.



More example sentences
  • Isaac Davis and one of his soldiers were killed instantly by the volley, and four Americans were wounded, including the fifer; the music abruptly stopped.
  • A regiment so equipped, with its drum and fife corps of 12 drummers and 12 fifers, would be greatly enhanced in its aspect for military functions.
  • Orders issued in 1791 and 1795 prohibited Eurasians from commissioned service in the army, except as drummers, fifers, and farriers.

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