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noun (1)

ca·​lyp·​so kə-ˈlip-(ˌ)sō How to pronounce calypso (audio)
capitalized : a sea nymph in Homer's Odyssey who keeps Odysseus seven years on the island of Ogygia
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


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noun (2)

plural calypsos or calypsoes
: 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
calypsonian noun or adjective

Did you know?

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.

Examples of calypso in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Their fusion of roots reggae with an increasingly pop-leaning blend of soul, R&B, dub, calypso, and other dance styles proved a hit both on U.S. radio and in their Jamaican homeland, where the band moved after releasing debut LP Miracles. Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork, 26 Feb. 2024 The actress and musician opened up about her feelings in an essay for Deadline on Friday, detailing Harry's many cultural accomplishments and advocating for a more substantial tribute for the Grammy-winning calypso artist, who died of congestive heart failure at age 96 in April 2023. Jack Irvin, Peoplemag, 10 Feb. 2024 Meanwhile, the Caribbean offers its own unique flavor, from Trinidad and Tobago’s calypso and soca festivities to Cuba’s vibrant comparsas, with Colombia’s Barranquilla adding its own electrifying twist. Isabela Raygoza, Billboard, 15 Feb. 2024 Soca and calypso competitions, street fairs, and booming fetes on both land and sea culminate at Grand Kadooment Day, where nearly 20,000 revelers take over the streets of St. Michael each year. Kristin Braswell, Travel + Leisure, 10 Feb. 2024 While Trinidad and Tobago may be best known for their Carnival celebrations, Jamaica's version is a colorful blur of music, dance, and food, a non-stop party powered by soca and calypso beats. Carley Rojas Avila, Travel + Leisure, 26 Dec. 2023 Taxis are also available to take passengers to the top—which is a good idea on Sundays, when a lively BBQ set to the sounds of live music like calypso occurs. Kristin Braswell, Condé Nast Traveler, 14 Dec. 2023 Born in Antigua and Barbuda and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Drue grew up immersed in R&B, reggae and soca music, a musical style that stems from calypso and blends in soul music, according to Trini Jungle Juice. Jonah Valdez, Los Angeles Times, 13 Dec. 2023 From the relaxed grooves of reggae to the infectious rhythms of soca, the high-energy beats from dancehall, to the melodic storytelling and social commentary of calypso, among many other genres, the Caribbean has given rise to a diverse array of musical styles over several generations. Melissa Noel, Essence, 30 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'calypso.' 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)

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

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1900, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near calypso

Cite this Entry

“Calypso.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural calypsos
: a folk song or style of singing of West Indian origin having a lively rhythm and words which are usually made up by the singer

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