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

  • noun A music entertainment system providing prerecorded accompaniment to popular songs that a performer sings live, usually by following the words on a video screen.
  • noun The performance of such music.

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

  • noun uncountable A form of entertainment popular in clubs, at parties, etc, in which individual members of the public sing along to pre-recorded instrumental versions of popular songs, the lyrics of which are displayed for the singer on a screen in time with the music.

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

  • noun singing popular songs accompanied by a recording of an orchestra (usually in bars or nightclubs)


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

[Japanese karaoke : kara, void, empty + alteration of ōke(sutora), orchestra (from English orchestra).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Japanese カラオケ (karaoke), from  (から, kara, "empty") + オケ (oke, "orchestra"), abbreviation of オーケストラ (ōkesutora), from English orchestra.



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  • Karaoke means 'empty orchestra' in Japanese.

    May 7, 2008

  • Perfect!

    May 7, 2008

  • The mis-pronunciation of karaoke as continued by American Heritage was started by a radio DJ many years ago because he was to lazy to find out how to properly say the word. Listeners assumed he knew what he was saying and followed his example. After pronouncing the first letter A as an AH, you can't change the sound of the second A to be an EE. It has to stay the same. My Japanese friend told me twenty years ago when I asked about the way the DJ was saying it that the correct pronunciation is KAH RAH O KEE.

    June 15, 2010