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  • Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Phonautograph (Physics) An instrument by means of which a sound can be made to produce a visible trace or record of itself. It consists essentially of a resonant vessel, usually of paraboloidal form, closed at one end by a flexible membrane. A stylus attached to some point of the membrane records the movements of the latter, as it vibrates, upon a moving cylinder or plate.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n phonautograph An instrument for registering the vibrations of a sounding body. That devised about 1858 by Léon Scott consists of a large barrel-shaped vessel made of plaster of Paris, into the open end of which the sound enters; the other end, somewhat contracted in shape, is closed by a membrane with a style attached on the outside, whose point rests against a horizontal cylinder covered with lampblacked paper. If the membrane is at rest the trace of the style is a straight line, but when the sound enters the membrane vibrates, and the writing-point registers these vibrations with great perfection.
    • n phonautograph Same as music-recorder.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Phonautograph an instrument for registering the vibrations of a sounding body
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Phono-, + Gr. self + -graph,


In literature:

Another would-be technical breakthrough was the Bell "phonautograph" of 1874, actually made out of a human cadaver's ear.
"Hacker Crackdown" by Bruce Sterling
He suggested the use of the human ear itself as a phonautograph, instead of making an artificial imitation of it.
"Little Masterpieces of Science:" by Various
Scott, phonautograph, 141, 407.
"Inventions in the Century" by William Henry Doolittle