zy·​de·​co ˈzī-də-ˌkō How to pronounce zydeco (audio)
often attributive
: popular music of southern Louisiana that combines tunes of French origin with elements of Caribbean music and the blues and that features guitar, washboard, and accordion

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The History of Zydeco

You might say that the lively form of music known as zydeco is full of beans, etymologically speaking. Legend has it that the word zydeco originated in the lyrics of Les Haricots Sont Pas Salés, a popular Cajun dance tune. Loosely translated, the song's title means "the beans are not salty," and when spoken in French Creole, les haricots (French for beans) sounds something like "zydeco." "Zydeco" first appeared in print in 1960 and has been used to describe this kind of music ever since.

Examples of zydeco in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Since its inception in 1997, this festival has also featured African rhythms like soukous and zydeco from New Orleans. Melissa Noel, Essence, 28 Nov. 2023 Chris Strachwitz, the founder of Arhoolie Records — an indispensable label for American roots music, from blues and zydeco to gospel and Mexican folk, for nearly seven decades — has died at the age of 91. Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 6 May 2023 Daigle was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and grew up in Lafayette, singing constantly, absorbing the local zydeco, blues, and Cajun music. Jem Aswad, Variety, 31 Jan. 2023 The artists know the state well, having toured all over it, and the music on this EP captures many of the sounds that influence such a vast and diverse place: there’s twang, there’s R&B, there’s Tejano, there’s zydeco, and a whole lot more. The Editors, Outside Online, 3 Mar. 2020 Good luck trying to distinguish their Mexican roots from the American ones amid an incredible fusion of rock, country, zydeco, folk, R&B, blues and traditional music like cumbia, boleros and norteños. Jeremy Hallock, Dallas News, 1 Mar. 2020 Among those participating are Dom Flemons, whose 2018 album Black Cowboys was nominated for a Grammy award, and Geno Delafose, a Louisiana rancher and zydeco musician. National Geographic, 28 Jan. 2020 Parisian French seemed at once at home and out of place in Cajun country, like the voice of Édith Piaf emanating from a zydeco club. Richard Fausset, New York Times, 21 Aug. 2019 During their sons’ younger years, the Franks used to travel across states to listen to zydeco bands. Ross Dellenger, SI.com, 20 Aug. 2019

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

Word History


perhaps modification of French les haricots beans, from the Cajun dance tune Les Haricots Sont Pas Salés

First Known Use

1955, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of zydeco was in 1955


Dictionary Entries Near zydeco

Cite this Entry

“Zydeco.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zydeco. Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


zy·​de·​co ˈzīd-ə-ˌkō How to pronounce zydeco (audio)
: popular music of southern Louisiana that combines tunes of French origin with elements of Caribbean music and blues
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