from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A usually fretted stringed instrument having a narrow neck and a hollow circular body with a covering of plastic or stretched skin on which the bridge rests. The modern American banjo typically has four strings and often a short fifth string plucked with the thumb.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A form of automatic railway signaling-apparatus in which a flat circular disk, with an arm projecting from one side, is alternately exhibited in front of a glass opening in the signal-box and withdrawn from sight by the make and break of an electric circuit. The shape of the disk and its arm has suggested the name.
  • noun In mining, an iron frame for carrying a false clack.
  • noun A musical instrument of the guitar class, having a neck with or without frets. and a circular body covered in front with tightly stretched parchment, like a tambourine.
  • noun A banjo-frame (which see).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A stringed musical instrument having a head and neck like the guitar, and a circular body like a tambourine. It has five strings, and is played with the fingers and hands.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun music A stringed musical instrument with a round body and fretted neck, played by plucking or strumming the strings.
  • noun slang An object shaped like a banjo, especially a frying pan or a shovel.
  • verb To play the banjo
  • verb slang, UK To beat; to knock down

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

  • noun a stringed instrument of the guitar family that has long neck and circular body


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

[Akin to Jamaican English banja, fiddle; probably akin to Kimbundu and Tshiluba mbanza, a plucked stringed instrument.]



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  • I can see fiddling around with a banjo, but how do you banjo around with a fiddle?

    Duncan Purney

    March 15, 2009

  • Go 'way, fiddle! folks is tired o' hearin' you a-squawkin'.

    Keep silence fur you' betters! don't you heah de banjo talkin'?

    About de 'possum's tail she's gwine to lecter—ladies, listen!

    About de ha'r whut isn't dar, an' why de ha'r is missin':

    - Irwin Russell, 'De Fust Banjo'.

    March 23, 2009