ivories (2)

American English
This page is about the slang term ivories (2).

Meaning: piano keys

For example:

  • Lay down a groove on those skins, my man, and I'll start tinklin' the ivories when the baby's rockin'.

  • And that's Mr. Ron Carter on double bass, Mr. Wayne Shorter on saxophone, and the cool cat on the ivories over there is Mr. Joe Zawinul!

Origin: Piano keys were traditionally made out of ivory from an elephant's tusk.

Variety: This is typically used in American English but may be used in other varieties of English too.

Quick Quiz:

If someone's playing the ivories, they'll be

a. gambling

b. playing music

c. playing the Chinese game Mahjong

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Contributor: Matt Errey