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  1. (often initial capital letter) a chicken of any of several varieties or breeds characterized by very small size.
  2. a small and feisty or quarrelsome person.
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  1. diminutive; tiny: bantam editions of the classics.
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Origin of bantam

1740–50; apparently after Bantam, through which such chickens may have been imported to Europe


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[ban-tuh m; Dutch bahn-tahm]
  1. a village in W Java, in S Indonesia: first Dutch settlement in the East Indies.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for bantam

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It clattered unheeded to the floor as the bantam dived for Hilary and Joan.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • Babbitt, looking like a triumphantly vicious Bantam rooster, crowed on.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • It was to be the bantam (carried by Natt and owned by his master) against all comers.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • By all means (returnd the wealthy King of Bantam;) I had so designd before.

  • Smith was eying the bantam critically when Dicksie rejoined him.

    Whispering Smith

    Frank H. Spearman

British Dictionary definitions for bantam


  1. any of various very small breeds of domestic fowl
  2. a small but aggressive person
  3. boxing short for bantamweight
  4. Canadian
    1. an age level of between 13 and 15 in amateur sport, esp ice hockey
    2. (as modifier)bantam hockey
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Word Origin

C18: after Bantam village in Java, said to be the original home of this fowl
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 bantam


1749, after Bantam, former Dutch residency in Java, from which the small domestic fowl were said to have been first imported. Extension to "small person" is 1837. As a light weight class in boxing, it is attested from 1884, probably from the birds, which are small but aggressive and bred for fighting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper