Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A medieval entertainer who traveled from place to place, especially to sing and recite poetry.
  • n. A lyric poet.
  • n. A musician.
  • n. A performer in a minstrel show.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A medieval traveling entertainer who would sing and recite poetry, often to his own musical accompaniment.
  • n. One of a troupe of entertainers who wore black makeup (blackface) to present a variety show of song, dance and banjo music; now considered racist.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. In the Middle Ages, one of an order of men who subsisted by the arts of poetry and music, and sang verses to the accompaniment of a harp or other instrument; in modern times, a poet; a bard; a singer and harper; a musician.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A musician, especially one who sings or recites to the accompaniment of instruments.
  • n. Hence Any poet or musician. [Poetical.]3, Originally, one of a class of singers of negro melodies and delineators of life on the Southern plantations which originated in the United States about 1830: called negro minstrels, although they are usually white men whose faces and hands are blackened with burnt cork.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a singer of folk songs
  • v. celebrate by singing, in the style of minstrels
  • n. a performer in a minstrel show

Etymologies

Middle English minstral, from Old French menestrel, servant, entertainer, from Late Latin ministeriālis, official in the imperial household, from Latin ministerium, ministry; see ministry.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English menestrel, from Old French menestral ("entertainer, servant, official") from Latin ministerialis ("servant"), from ministerium ("service"), from minister ("servant"). More at minister. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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