[ ban-joh ]
/ ˈbæn dʒoʊ /

noun, plural ban·jos, ban·joes.

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.

Nearby words

  1. banisters,
  2. baniya,
  3. banja luka,
  4. banjarmasin,
  5. banjermasin,
  6. banjo clock,
  7. banjolele,
  8. banjul,
  9. bank,
  10. bank acceptance

Origin of banjo

1730–40; compare Jamaican English banja, bonjour, bangil, Brazilian Portuguese banza; probably of African orig.; compare Kimbundu mbanza a plucked string instrument

Related formsban·jo·ist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for banjo

British Dictionary definitions for banjo


/ (ˈbændʒəʊ) /

noun plural -jos or -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
Australian and NZ slang a long-handled shovel with a wide blade
(modifier) banjo-shapeda banjo clock
Derived Formsbanjoist, noun

Word Origin for banjo

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

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

Culture 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.