One of a pair of round metal cymbals attached to the fingers and struck together for rhythm and percussion in belly dancing.
[Turkish zil, cymbals, probably (perhaps via Armenian zil, highest-pitched pair of strings on an oud) from Persian zīr, highest-pitched pair of strings on an oud, shrill sound, probably from Arabizing alteration of Persian zēr, under, below (in reference to the fact that when a player holds an oud to be played, the bottom pair of strings is tuned the highest), from Middle Persian azēr, under, below : az, from, out of (from Old Iranian hačā; see sekw-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + ēr, down, below (from Old Iranian aδara-, lower; see dher- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
(click for a larger image)zill
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.