- a medieval poet and musician who sang or recited while accompanying himself on a stringed instrument, either as a member of a noble household or as an itinerant troubadour.
- a musician, singer, or poet.
- one of a troupe of comedians, usually white men in blackface, presenting songs, jokes, etc., and portraying negative racial stereotypes.
Origin of minstrel
Examples from the Web for minstrel
What kind of minstrel show he gave to win his freedom is not known.Portrait of the Consummate Con Man
May 17, 2014
I started with a minstrel show, making eight bucks a night, three nights a week.The Stacks: The Neville Brothers Stake Their Claim as Bards of the Bayou
John Ed Bradley
April 27, 2014
The idea that Cyrus staged what amounts to a minstrel show Sunday night is an interesting, though debatable, one.Miley Cyrus's VMA Performance Was Ridiculous, But It Wasn't Racist
August 26, 2013
In a tradition that goes back to the days of the minstrel show, the banjo player doubled as a comedian.Earl Scruggs, Dead at 88, Pioneered a Banjo Style Imitated but Never Equaled
March 29, 2012
They perceived it as symbolic sexual service in the minstrel lane.What Was Venus Thinking?
May 29, 2010
"I trust that I am a better bowman than a minstrel," said he.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
The harp of the minstrel is untruly touched, if his own glory is all that it records.Modern Painters Volume I (of V)
The minstrel, like the fighters, revels in hard knocks and rough jests.The Balladists
She seemed the minstrel of her race mourning for a vanished world.They of the High Trails
Cappen Varra, minstrel of Croy, clung to the bench and sighed.The Valor of Cappen Varra
Poul William Anderson
- a medieval wandering musician who performed songs or recited poetry with instrumental accompaniment
- a performer in a minstrel show
- archaic, or poetic any poet, musician, or singer
Word Origin and History for minstrel
early 13c., from Old French menestrel "entertainer, poet, musician; servant, workman; good-for-nothing, rogue," from Medieval Latin ministralis "servant, jester, singer," from Late Latin ministerialem (nominative ministerialis) "imperial household officer, one having an official duty," from ministerialis (adj.) "ministerial," from Latin ministerium (see ministry). The connecting notion is via the jester, etc., as a court position.
Specific sense of "musician" developed in Old French, but in English until 16c. the word was used of anyone (singers, storytellers, jugglers, buffoons) whose profession was to entertain patrons. Only in 18c. was the word limited, in a historical sense, to "medieval singer of heroic or lyric poetry who accompanied himself on a stringed instrument." Reference to blackface music acts in U.S. is from 1843.