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[juhm-boh] /ˈdʒʌm boʊ/ Informal.
noun, plural jumbos.
a very large person, animal, or thing.
U.S. Nautical.
  1. a forestaysail having a boom (jumbo boom) along its foot, used especially on schooners.
  2. a sail used in place of a course on a square-rigged ship, having the form of an isosceles triangle set apex downward.
  3. a narrow triangular sail set point downward in place of a foresail on a topsail schooner.
very large:
the jumbo box of cereal.
Origin of jumbo
First recorded in 1800-10; origin uncertain; popularized as the name of a large elephant purchased and exhibited by P.T. Barnum in 1882 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for jumbo
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Ay, she'd know her anywhere—by the rust on her jumbo she would—the Ligonier.

    Sonnie-Boy's People James B. Connolly
  • Yet there was no better line-rider in the Panhandle than jumbo Wilkins.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • You could get that sarsaparilla across the bar at the Bird Cage, couldn't you, jumbo?

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • jumbo mentioned that he had found an A T O cow dead by a water-hole.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • He contrived to say it so offensively that jumbo flushed with anger.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
British Dictionary definitions for jumbo


noun (pl) -bos
  1. a very large person or thing
  2. (as modifier): a jumbo box of detergent
See jumbo jet
Word Origin
C19: after the name of a famous elephant exhibited by P. T. Barnum, from Swahili jumbe chief
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 jumbo

"very large, unusually large for its type," 1882, a reference to Jumbo, name of the London Zoo's huge elephant (acquired from France, said to have been captured as a baby in Abyssinia in 1861), sold February 1882 to U.S. circus showman P.T. Barnum amid great excitement in America and great outcry in England, both fanned by Barnum. The name is perhaps from slang jumbo "clumsy, unwieldy fellow" (1823), which itself is possibly from a word for "elephant" in a West African language (cf. Kongo nzamba).

"I tell you conscientiously that no idea of the immensity of the animal can be formed. It is a fact that he is simply beyond comparison. The largest elephants I ever saw are mere dwarfs by the side of Jumbo." [P.T. Barnum, interview, "Philadelphia Press," April 22, 1882]
As a product size, by 1886 (cigars). Jumbo jet attested by 1964.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for jumbo



Very large; gigantic; humongous: I had a jumbo portion

[1897+; fr the London Zoo's great elephant, sold in 1882 to P T Barnum; Jumbo is a version of the word for ''elephant'' in various West African languages, for example, Kongo nzamba]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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