1 of 2

noun (1)

bon·​go ˈbäŋ-(ˌ)gō How to pronounce bongo (audio)
plural bongos also bongoes
: one of a pair of small connected drums of different sizes and pitches played with the hands
bongoist noun


2 of 2

noun (2)

plural bongo or bongos
: an African antelope (Tragelaphus eurycerus synonym Boocerus euryceros) that is chestnut red with narrow white vertical stripes and is found in forests from Sierra Leone to Kenya

Examples of bongo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Now, all three Eastern bongos can be seen by visitors in the African Forest habitat. Amy Schwabe, Journal Sentinel, 13 May 2024 And if all that's not enough for you, dig Jack Lemmon playing bongos as Gillian's hipster warlock brother. Gwen Ihnat,, 26 Sep. 2023 In April, the Magic Mike star shared a throwback photo on Instagram of himself with a buzz cut, wearing bunny ears and playing the bongos with a friend while fully clothed. Esme Mazzeo, Peoplemag, 24 Dec. 2023 Others may try their hand at playing (or inventing) bongos. Alejandra Gularte, Vulture, 12 Sep. 2023 Michel Magne’s crime-jazz score is a guilty pleasure, going heavy on the brass and bongos and electric guitar. Mark Feeney,, 29 Aug. 2023 Most of the supporting characters in Oppenheimer are sketched with only a single trait: Jean Tatlock is naked; Richard Feynman plays the bongos; Edward Teller stopped worrying and loves the bomb. Vulture, 25 July 2023 Gretchen the cheetah escapes enclosure, forces brief closure of Nebraska zoo More on eastern bongos Eastern bongos, also called mountain bongos, are found in Kenya and are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Saleen Martin, USA TODAY, 17 Mar. 2023 The passionate theme begins with some bohemian guitar chords, followed by a beat of castanets merging with the surprising appearance of electric guitar, as well as percussion, güira, and bongos. Jessica Roiz, Billboard, 16 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bongo.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

American Spanish bongó

Noun (2)

probably from Kele (Bantu language of Gabon)

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1920, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1861, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bongo was in 1861

Dictionary Entries Near bongo

Cite this Entry

“Bongo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural bongos also bongoes
: either of a pair of small drums of different sizes fitted together and played with the fingers

More from Merriam-Webster on bongo

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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