Definition of banjo in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈbandʒəʊ/

noun (plural banjos or banjoes)

Image of banjo
1A stringed instrument of the guitar family, with a round open-backed soundbox of parchment stretched over a metal hoop.
Example sentences
  • Baxter is probably best known as the ace pedal steel, banjo, dobro, guitar, all-'round musical utility guy for Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and Ryan Adams.
  • Strings, guitars, banjo, tambourine, French horn, harp, clarinet, accordion, drums and chanting contribute to Arcade Fire's intensely deep but totally palatable fusion of sounds.
  • Musically, the album isn't afraid of drawing on different instruments, from mouth organs to banjos, to acoustic guitars and piano.
1.1An object resembling a banjo in shape: [as modifier]: a banjo clock
More example sentences
  • The variant of the Willard patent banjo clock shown in Plates IX and IXa is inscribed ‘DANIEL / MUNROE’ on the lower glass.
  • Dating from between about 1795 and 1800, it has a dial signed by David Wood of Newbusyport, Massachusetts, who also made tall-case and banjo clocks.
  • Positively sealed by O-rings, the banjo design allows 360 degrees rotation of the regular for ideal positioning.
1.2Australian /NZ dated A shovel.


swing the banjo

Australian /NZ informal Use a shovel, especially in a vigorous way: I hope to be swinging the banjo around some of those stony ridges
More example sentences
  • We spend a lot of time swinging the banjo, and only yesterday had to put in a new winze, following damage to our trenches from Beachy Bill.
  • It made no difference, and next morning he returned to swinging the banjo.
  • After swinging the banjo for eight hours, I sit down to write a few lines on what I think to be right.



Pronunciation: /ˈbandʒəʊɪst/
Example sentences
  • The son of noted artist George Grosz, Marty is a 74-year-old vocalist, guitarist and banjoist, and these are two feel-good CDs from 1995 and 2000-01, respectively.
  • Even former band member, banjoist Alison Brown, doesn't get a look in on the track she co-wrote with Krauss, ‘This Sad Song’.
  • An accomplished fiddler / banjoist / guitarist, he also played a number of instrumentals for the appreciative crowd.


Mid 18th century: originally a black American alteration of bandore (see bandora).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: banjo

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.