(Fr. Épinette; It. spinetta).
Small type of early kbd. instr. of hpd. family in which str. ran diagonally in front of player or more or less parallel to kbd. as on virginals. Often made in uneven 6‐sided shape with kbd. on longest side. Normally one set of str. and 4‐octave compass. The name ‘spinet’ is indiscriminately applied to a no. of plucked kbd. instr. First mentioned 1496. A theory is that it was named after Giovanni Spina, an instr.‐maker active in late 15th cent., another that the name derives from its thorn‐like plectra, spinetta being diminutive of spina, a thorn. The 19th‐cent. square pf. is often incorrectly called a spinet.