noun (1)
ca·​lyp·​so | \ kə-ˈlip-(ˌ)sō How to pronounce calypso (audio) \

Definition of calypso

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 capitalized : a sea nymph in Homer's Odyssey who keeps Odysseus seven years on the island of Ogygia
2 plural calypsos [New Latin, genus name, probably from Latin] : a bulbous bog orchid (Calypso bulbosa) of northern regions bearing a single white to purplish flower


noun (2)
plural calypsos or calypsoes

Definition of calypso (Entry 2 of 2)

: a style of music originating in the West Indies, marked by lively duple meter, and having lyrics that are often improvised and usually satirize local personalities and events also : a song in this style

Other Words from calypso

Noun (2)

calypsonian \ kə-​ˌlip-​ˈsō-​nē-​ən How to pronounce calypso (audio) , ˌka-​(ˌ)lip-​ \ noun or adjective

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A type of folk song, calypso is originally from Trinidad but is also sung elsewhere in the Caribbean. The calypso tradition dates to the early 19th century. The subject of a calypso text, which is usually witty and satiric, is an event of political or social importance, and the lyric often incorporates Spanish, Creole, and African phrases. The exaggeration of local speech patterns is matched by an offbeat rhythm. Favorite accompanying instruments are the shak-shak (maraca), cuatro (a string instrument), and tamboo-bamboo (bamboo poles of various lengths struck on the ground), and steel drums.

First Known Use of calypso

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1900, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for calypso

Noun (1)

Latin, from Greek Kalypsō

Noun (2)

Trinidad English, alteration of kaiso, perhaps ultimately of African origin; akin to eastern Caribbean English caliso, cariso satirical song

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The first known use of calypso was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Calypso.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for calypso


ca·​lyp·​so | \ kə-ˈlip-sō How to pronounce calypso (audio) \
plural calypsos

Kids Definition of calypso

: a lively folk song or style of singing of the West Indies

More from Merriam-Webster on calypso

Nglish: Translation of calypso for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of calypso for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about calypso


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