gri·​ot | \ ˈgrē-ˌō How to pronounce griot (audio) \

Definition of griot

: any of a class of musician-entertainers of western Africa whose performances include tribal histories and genealogies broadly : storyteller

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An African tribal storyteller and musician is called a griot. The griot’s role was to preserve the genealogies and oral traditions of the tribe. They were usually among the oldest men in a tribe. In places where written language is the privilege of the few, the place of the griot as cultural guardian is still maintained. In Senegal, for example, the griot—without resorting to fantasy—recites poems or tells stories of warriors, drawing on his own sources of inspiration.

Examples of griot in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Jackson serves as griot, or head scholar, at America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Community responds after fifth Wauwatosa police officer-involved shooting in five years," 7 Feb. 2020 Reggie Jackson, head griot of the museum, said about the museum's reopening, which is slated to take place this fall. Talis Shelbourne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "America's Black Holocaust Museum has a new CEO ahead of its fall 2019 reopening," 13 Sep. 2019 Special activities for children included griots — storytellers; visits from Ripcord from the Aberdeen IronBirds and Miss Juneteenth of Delaware; and horse rides and photos with the Buffalo Soldiers. The Aegis, "Hosanna School Museum's Juneteenth festival attracts nearly 1,000 visitors," 26 June 2018 That’s particularly true of those who practice the art of the griot — the hereditary caste of bards, instrumentalists and singers. John Adamian,, "Music Festivals And Concerts Not To Miss This Week," 18 June 2018 All of the neighborhood moms loved Lamour, and Medor said her mother prepared griot, a Haitian dish with pork shoulders, friend plantains, rice and beans. Michael Williams,, "Woman who drowned in Orange County pond 'lost herself trying to help others,' friend says," 24 May 2018 Sory’s work, seen today, seems to beckon across the gulf of time to a past all but lost, a past mired in legends of emirs and mansas and griots, a past that reforms into an ever-evolving and frenetic present. Chris Abani, The New Republic, "Capturing a lost era in Sanlé Sory’s studio portraits in Burkina Faso," 19 Apr. 2018 Trio Da Kali plays music of the griots or djelis of Mali. John Adamian,, "Trio Da Kali To Play Cafe Nine," 31 Mar. 2018 Some turkey and griot had to be tossed after being kept at too warm a temperature. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "Poop in the oven, live rodents, dead rodents — and 12 restaurants are shut down | Miami Herald," 26 Feb. 2018

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

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First Known Use of griot

1820, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for griot


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The first known use of griot was in 1820

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Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Griot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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