Definition: A medieval wind instrument played in a similar fashion to a trombone.
The sackbut entered the English language around the year 1500, from the French ‘saquebute’, a trumpet played in a similar fashion to a trombone.
Indeed, it is thought that the telescoping slide mechanism used to play it gave it its name, looking perhaps similar to the 14th century French weapon the ‘saqueboute’ – a “lance with a mounted hook used for pulling down mounted men”.
Why this word?
Lets re-cap so that you don’t forget what we’ve learned thus far: the ‘sackbut’ gets its name from a tool used to pull down mounted men.
Early spellings of the instrument include the rather fantastical ‘sagbutt’ and ‘shagbush’ – nouns no longer directly associated with classical music.
As a writer of humour, I’m going to be honest: I chose ‘sackbut’ because it’s funny.
How to use the word sackbut in a sentence?
I cannot think of a single sober instance where use of this word or any of its evolutionary spellings and forms is appropriate. Unless you’re an archaic-musicologist, steer clear of this one. There is a reason why you’ll never meet someone who is the ‘first sackbut player of the New York Philharmonic’.