[ sam-boh ]
/ ˈsæm boʊ /
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noun, plural sam·bos.Older Use: Now Disparaging and Offensive.
a term used to refer to a Black person, especially a male.
Also zam·bo [zam-boh] /ˈzæm boʊ/ .Archaic. a term used to refer to a Latin American of Black and Native American ancestry, or a person of Black and white ancestry.
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Origin of sambo

An Americanism dating back to 1690–1700; from Colonial Spanish zambo “Black person, person of mixed race,” perhaps special use of Spanish zambo “bowlegged,” said to be from Latin scambus, from Greek skambós “crooked,” or perhaps from Kongo nzambu “monkey”

usage note for sambo

Sambo was a common given name among Black people during the slavery era; it was later a neutral term for a Black person. However, after World War II, an increasing sensitivity to racial stereotypes caused the term to be perceived as demeaning and insulting.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sambo in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sambo (1 of 2)

/ (ˈsæmbəʊ) /

noun plural -bos
slang an archaic and taboo word for a Black person: once used as a term of address
archaic the offspring of a Black person and a member of another race or a mulatto

Word Origin for sambo

C18: from American Spanish zambo a person of Black descent; perhaps related to Bantu nzambu monkey

British Dictionary definitions for sambo (2 of 2)


sambo wrestling

/ (ˈsæmbəʊ) /

a type of wrestling based on judo that originated in Russia and now features in international competitions

Derived forms of sambo

sambo wrestler, noun

Word Origin for sambo

C20: from Russian sam (ozashchita) b (ez) o (ruzhiya) self-defence without weapons
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