Related formsGuin·e·an, adjective, noun
Can be confusedGuiana Guinea Guyana Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for guinea

Contemporary Examples of guinea

Historical Examples of guinea

British Dictionary definitions for guinea



  1. a British gold coin taken out of circulation in 1813, worth 21 shillings
  2. the sum of 21 shillings (£1.05), still used in some contexts, as in quoting professional fees
US slang, derogatory an Italian or a person of Italian descent

Word Origin for guinea

C16: the coin was originally made of gold from Guinea



a republic in West Africa, on the Atlantic: established as the colony of French Guinea in 1890 and became an independent republic in 1958. Official language: French. Religion: Muslim majority and animist. Currency: franc. Capital: Conakry. Pop: 11 176 026 (2013 est). Area: 245 855 sq km (94 925 sq miles)
(formerly) the coastal region of West Africa, between Cape Verde and Namibe (formerly Moçâmedes; Angola): divided by a line of volcanic peaks into Upper Guinea (between The Gambia and Cameroon) and Lower Guinea (between Cameroon and S Angola)
Gulf of Guinea a large inlet of the S Atlantic on the W coast of Africa, extending from Cape Palmas, Liberia, to Cape Lopez, Gabon: contains two large bays, the Bight of Bonny and the Bight of Benin, separated by the Niger delta
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 guinea

former British coin, 1660s, from Guinea, region along the west coast of Africa, presumably from an African word (perhaps Tuareg aginaw "black people"); the 20-shilling coins so called because they were first minted for British trade with Guinea (but soon in domestic use) and with gold from Africa. The original guinea (in use from 1663 to 1813) was based on the value of gold and by 1695 it was worth 30 shillings. William III then fixed its value at 21 shillings, 6 pence in 1698. The extra 6 pence were lopped off in December 1717.

The Guinea hen (1570s) is a domestic fowl imported from there. Guinea "derogatory term for Italian" (1896) was originally Guinea Negro (1740s) and meant "black person, person of mixed ancestry." It was applied to Italians c.1890 probably because of their dark complexions relative to northern Europeans, and after 1911 was occasionally applied to Hispanics and Pacific Islanders as well. New Guinea was so named 1546 by Spanish explorer Inigo Ortiz de Retes in reference to the natives' dark skin and tightly curled hair.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

guinea in Culture



Republic in west Africa, bordered by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Mali to the north; Ivory Coast to the east; Liberia to the south; and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its capital and largest city is Conarky.


Guinea was once part of the Mali empire.


It became independent of France in 1958.
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.