ocarina (ŏkərēˈnə) [key], musical wind instrument with eight finger holes and two thumb holes, rather egg-shaped, and made of metal, terra-cotta or plastic. Unlike other wind instuments, it produces pure tones that lack overtones. It was invented in the late 19th cent. in Italy and is popular with amateurs for its relative simplicity and low cost. It is occasionally called a "sweet potato" because of its shape.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.