Renaissance instr. something between a lyre and a guitar, but with metal str., a flat back, and pear‐shaped body. Played with a quill plectrum. Name derived from Gr. kithara (lyre), and the cittern was known as cistra (Fr.), Cister (Ger.), and cithren (Eng.). In It. where it was developed it was called the cetra. Used as a solo instr. and in broken consort. Not to be confused with gittern. From late 17th cent. gave way to guitar but survived into early 20th cent. as folk instr. in Switz. and Ger.