[ ban-joh ]

noun,plural ban·jos, ban·joes.
  1. 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

First recorded in 1730–40; compare Jamaican English banja, bonjour, bangil, Brazilian Portuguese banza; probably of African origin; compare Kimbundu mbanza a plucked string instrument

Other words from banjo

  • ban·jo·ist, noun

Words Nearby banjo Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use banjo in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for banjo


/ (ˈbændʒəʊ) /

nounplural -jos or -joes
  1. 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

  2. slang any banjo-shaped object, esp a frying pan

  1. Australian and NZ slang a long-handled shovel with a wide blade

  2. (modifier) banjo-shaped: a banjo clock

Origin of banjo

C18: variant (US Southern pronunciation) of bandore

Derived forms of banjo

  • banjoist, noun

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

Cultural definitions for banjo


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.