hornpipe, English folk dance known since the 16th cent., when it obtained its name from the wind instrument that accompanied it. The hornpipes of the 17th and 18th cent. have moderate 3–2 time and 4–4 time. As a solo dance it was popular with sailors, who performed it with folded arms and numerous gestures and steps. The hornpipe appears in the works of Purcell and Handel.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.