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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Did You Know?

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 Both the playwright and the actor have a touch of griot in them. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tragedy constricts the life of 'Neat,' but not her soul, in revived Renaissance Theaterworks production," 24 Mar. 2021 This invention was created simultaneously by many different global authors, among them the 13th-century West African griot poet who composed the Epic of Sundiata. Angus Fletcher, Smithsonian Magazine, "Eight of Literature’s Most Powerful Inventions—and the Neuroscience Behind How They Work," 10 Mar. 2021 Yet, through his films, vivid impressions that weave the past and present of Ivory Coast, Lacôte has already risen as a sort of cinematic griot, a modern keeper of his people’s history. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, "Philippe Lacôte honors Ivory Coast’s legacy of storytelling with ‘Night of the Kings’," 6 Mar. 2021 Although Roman has a family connection to the West African griot tradition, his own storytelling talents are rough and unpolished, and all the more affectingly human for it. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Night of the Kings,’ a movie about the power of storytelling, also has a good story to tell," 26 Feb. 2021 Dart Adams, a hip-hop historian, author, and Boston griot is a native son of the South End and Lower Roxbury., "Black Joy. Black Wellness. Black Futures.," 10 Feb. 2021 Along with a variety of burgers, Bruno’s most popular menu item is the griot, or pulled pork, which turns up in a variety of formats. Ben Crandell,, "Bruno’s Eats a new restaurant coming to Fort Lauderdale’s buzzy 13th Street," 5 Oct. 2020 The dish griot is reminiscent of the Cuban dish Masitas de Puerco. Amy Drew Thompson,, "Top 10 Florida foods for a feast? We asked a food expert: Chef Norman Van Aken," 3 Sep. 2020 Reggie Jackson, a local historian, is head griot of America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee. Reggie Jackson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Opinion: During the demonstrations and unrest in Milwaukee, we must listen carefully to what our community is saying," 4 June 2020

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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Last Updated

27 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Griot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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