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[ban-joh] /ˈbæn dʒoʊ/
noun, plural banjos, banjoes.
a musical instrument of the guitar family, having a circular body covered in front with tightly stretched parchment and played with the fingers or a plectrum.
Origin of banjo
Jamaican English
Brazilian Portuguese
1730-40; compare Jamaican English banja, bonjour, bangil, Brazilian Portuguese banza; probably of African orig.; compare Kimbundu mbanza a plucked string instrument
Related forms
banjoist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for banjo
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • On a low couch piled with cushions lay Helen's mandolin and a banjo.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • He just missed running into banjo on the Hog's Back by the skin of the teeth.

    Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower
  • That evening old Barnaby brought his banjo around to the veranda.

  • Down the middle of the guitar there is a walled enclosure of the shape of a banjo.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • Come up and bring that boy with his banjo, and we'll have a lot of fun.

    Dave Porter At Bear Camp Edward Stratemeyer
British Dictionary definitions for banjo


noun (pl) -jos, -joes
a stringed musical instrument with a long neck (usually fretted) and a circular drumlike body overlaid with parchment, plucked with the fingers or a plectrum
(slang) any banjo-shaped object, esp a frying pan
(Austral & NZ, slang) a long-handled shovel with a wide blade
(modifier) banjo-shaped: a banjo clock
Derived Forms
banjoist, noun
Word Origin
C18: variant (US Southern pronunciation) of bandore
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for banjo

1764, American English, usually described as of African origin, probably akin to Bantu mbanza, an instrument resembling a banjo. The word has been influenced by colloquial pronunciation of bandore (1560s in English), a 16c. stringed instrument like a lute and an ancestor (musically and linguistically) of mandolin; from Portuguese bandurra, from Latin pandura, from Greek pandoura "three-stringed instrument." The origin and influence might be the reverse of what is here described.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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banjo in Culture

banjo definition

A stringed musical instrument, played by plucking (see strings). The banjo has a percussive sound and is much used in folk music and bluegrass music.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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