noun \ˈmin(t)-strəl\

: a musical entertainer in the Middle Ages

: a member of a group of entertainers who performed black American songs and jokes usually with blackened faces

Full Definition of MINSTREL

:  one of a class of medieval musical entertainers; especially :  a singer of verses to the accompaniment of a harp
a :  musician
b :  poet
a :  any of a troupe of performers typically giving a program of black American melodies, jokes, and impersonations and usually wearing blackface
b :  a performance by a troupe of minstrels

Examples of MINSTREL

  1. <Edna St. Vincent Millay was unofficially the minstrel of Maine, as her poetry celebrates its coast and countryside.>

Origin of MINSTREL

Middle English menestrel, from Anglo-French menestral official, servant, minstrel, from Late Latin ministerialis imperial household officer, from Latin ministerium service, from minister servant — more at minister
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Performing Arts Terms

diva, dramaturgy, loge, prestidigitation, proscenium, supernumerary, zany


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Wandering musician of the Middle Ages, often of low status. The term (and equivalents such as Latin ioculator and French jongleur) was applied in medieval times to people ranging from singing beggars to traveling musicians hired by towns for special occasions to court jesters. The modern folksinger is a descendant. See also minstrel show.


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