min·​strel·​sy | \ ˈmin(t)-strəl-sē How to pronounce minstrelsy (audio) \

Definition of minstrelsy

1 : the singing and playing of a minstrel
2 : a body of minstrels
3 : a group of songs or verse

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Synonyms & Antonyms for minstrelsy


poesy, poetry, song, verse



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Examples of minstrelsy in a Sentence

the traditional forms of German minstrelsy

Recent Examples on the Web

Some people reject the idea that blackface – a relic of minstrelsy, popular entertainment from the 19th century rooted in the mimicry and mocking of plantation slaves – is racist. Monica Rhor, USA TODAY, "'Deeply offensive' blackface video of California high school student sparks backlash," 8 Feb. 2019 Blackface minstrelsy is considered by some to be the first uniquely American form of entertainment. Jesse J. Holland, The Seattle Times, "Explaining the outrage: Racist history of American blackface began in the 1830s," 6 Feb. 2019 Blitzstein, sometimes at the risk of minstrelsy, absorbed the musical voice of the South, where the opera takes place, while writing symphonic music with the economy and directness of Copland. Joshua Barone, New York Times, "Susan Graham, Opera’s Sweetheart, Tries Something New: Being Nasty," 5 June 2018 In this, Glover certainly isn’t the first artist to suggest that black popular entertainment can simultaneously work as minstrelsy, appeasing a racist system, and as a gas valve of joy for people crunched by that system. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Donald Glover Is Watching You Watch Him," 7 May 2018 In February, the city of Pittsburgh decided to remove a statue of the composer Stephen Foster, whose music supplied the canon of American minstrelsy during the 1840s, from its prominent place at the entrance to Schenley Park. Ginia Bellafante, New York Times, "Statue of Doctor Who Did Slave Experiments Is Exiled. Its Ideas Are Not.," 18 Apr. 2018 As Kondabolu argues in a conversation with Whoopi Goldberg, there’s an undeniable element of minstrelsy in Apu. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "My Epiphany About the Problem With Apu," 14 Apr. 2018 By the mid-1840s, blackface minstrelsy would become what many historians consider America’s first popular mass-entertainment form. Mel Watkins, WSJ, "‘Richard Potter’ Review: The Disappearing Act of America’s First Black Celebrity," 12 Apr. 2018 All of that playing with current forms of popular culture meant that Klan violence confused observers—especially white Northerners, who were fans of minstrelsy, too, and quite ready to laugh at a black person who was the butt of a joke. Rebecca Onion, Slate Magazine, "From cross-dressing to white robes to Tiki torches, what we can learn from white supremacists’ long history of carefully cultivating their own aesthetic.," 17 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'minstrelsy.' 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 minstrelsy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for minstrelsy

Middle English mynstralcye, borrowed from Anglo-French menestralsie, menstralcie, from menestral, menstral minstrel + -sie, -cie -cy

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Statistics for minstrelsy

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for minstrelsy

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

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to complain fretfully

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