[ 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.
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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Also zam·bo [zam-boh] /ˈzæm boʊ/ .

Origin of sambo

An Americanism first recorded in 1690–1700; from American Spanish zambo “black person, mulatto,” perhaps special use of Spanish zambo “bowlegged,” said to be from Latin scambus, from Greek skambós “crooked”

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. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for sambo

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