ban·​jo | \ ˈban-(ˌ)jō How to pronounce banjo (audio) \
plural banjos also banjoes

Definition of banjo

: a musical instrument with a drumlike body, a fretted neck, and usually four or five strings which may be plucked or strummed

Illustration of banjo

Illustration of banjo

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from banjo

banjoist \ ˈban-​ˌjō-​ist How to pronounce banjoist (audio) \ noun

Examples of banjo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web From vocals carried along freely by the accompaniment of rollicking banjo and harmonica to toe-tapping jams and sweetly confident ballads. cleveland, "Live music to return to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on July 4," 30 June 2020 Scores of singers, songwriters and even banjo-picking comedians converged on a neighborhood — and American culture — when society itself, to quote Dickens, careened between the best of times and the worst of times. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, "Laurel Canyon, once home to Harry Houdini, the Doors and the Eagles, is being lionized — again," 31 May 2020 From their Nashville home, the banjo virtuosos and married couple Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn will perform as part of the Banjo House Lockdown livestream series. Maya Salam, New York Times, "200 Stars, 24 Hours: Oprah, Julia Roberts and More," 1 May 2020 Pete, who’s from Tennessee, kept coming up with these songs on the banjo. Eric Barton, Outside Online, "How a Shipwrecked Crew Survived 10 Days Lost at Sea," 22 Feb. 2020 Many of Seeger’s recordings were his versions of folk standards, union songs, spirituals and discoveries from all over the world—usually on banjo, but sometimes on guitar. Alicia Ault, Smithsonian Magazine, "Grammy Nod to Folkways’ Pete Seeger Collection Is a Fitting Tribute," 13 Feb. 2020 Inside, after a few banjo tunes by Béla Fleck and addresses by local politicians, Sanders gave his standard stump speech, with a few ad-libbed embellishments. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, "Bernie Sanders at the End of the World," 9 Apr. 2020 Corriveau stuffed workout gear into one corner of the bedroom, and stood a banjo in the other. Alden Woods, azcentral, "Nurses on the front line of a pandemic leave their homes to protect their families," 21 Mar. 2020 Today, politicians often aspire to be seen as one of those real Americans—the straight-talking, salt-of-the-earth folks who gave us banjo music and barbecue. John Patrick Leary, The New Republic, "Why Politicians Can’t Stop Talking About “Folks”," 27 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'banjo.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of banjo

1739, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for banjo

probably of African origin; akin to Kimbundu mbanza, a similar instrument

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about banjo

Time Traveler for banjo

Time Traveler

The first known use of banjo was in 1739

See more words from the same year

Statistics for banjo

Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Banjo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for banjo


How to pronounce banjo (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of banjo

: a musical instrument like a small guitar with a round body, a long neck, and four or five strings


ban·​jo | \ ˈban-jō How to pronounce banjo (audio) \
plural banjos

Kids Definition of banjo

: a musical instrument with a round body, long neck, and four or five strings

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on banjo

Spanish Central: Translation of banjo

Nglish: Translation of banjo for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about banjo

Comments on banjo

What made you want to look up banjo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!