The New International Encyclopædia/Spinet
SPINET (OF. espinette, Fr. épinette, from It. spinetta, spinet, point, diminutive of spina, from Lat. spina, thorn, spine). A stringed musical instrument with a keyboard, smaller and weaker than the harpsichord, and, like it, one of the precursors of the pianoforte. The general outline of the instrument nearly resembled that of a harp laid in a horizontal position, with the keys occupying the position of the sounding-board. The oldest extant specimen is dated 1490.