griot

noun

gri·​ot ˈgrē-ˌō How to pronounce griot (audio)
: 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 This cook and noted griot was determined to use food as a source of pride and validation for African Americans. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 14 Dec. 2023 In this innovative participatory experience, Being, an artificial intelligence digital griot, asks the audience to engage in unifying and challenging discussions. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Dec. 2023 Rapping itself originated hundreds of years ago with the West African tradition of the griot, the oral historians who wrote and performed songs to document in music the past and present of their people. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Aug. 2023 The album’s concept revolves around a Batiste alter-ego, the cosmic DJ/griot Billy Bob Bo Bob, broadcasting a variety of this world’s music into the universe. Bill Beuttler, BostonGlobe.com, 14 July 2023 In its five decades, Kronos has recorded 43 studio albums and a handful of major film soundtracks on top of that, and their discography includes everything from modernist string quartets to tango (with Astor Piazzolla), West African griot music (with Trio Da Kali), and Bollywood (with Asha Bhosle). Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 20 July 2023 Now, imagine that story reinforcing itself from the perspectives of various griots, or chroniclers, or for the sake of this exercise, spinners. Ken Makin, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 June 2023 It is rarely noted today, but, in the last decade of his life, Wilson came to be seen—in the eyes of America’s theater establishment—as something a bit more fierce and troubling than a benign Broadway griot conjuring the history of his people onstage. Jake Lamar, The New Republic, 14 Jan. 2021 And that’s what August Wilson was — a griot. Jen Yamato, Los Angeles Times, 19 Nov. 2020 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

French

First Known Use

1820, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of griot was in 1820

Dictionary Entries Near griot

Cite this Entry

“Griot.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/griot. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

griot

noun
gri·​ot ˈgrē-ˌō How to pronounce griot (audio)
: any of a class of musician-entertainers of western Africa whose performances include tribal histories and genealogies

More from Merriam-Webster on griot

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