1 [bong-goh, bawng-]
noun, plural bongos (especially collectively) bongo.
a reddish-brown antelope, Taurotragus eurycerus, of the forests of tropical Africa, having white stripes and large, spirally twisted horns.

1860–65; probably < a Bantu language; compare Lingala mongu an antelope Unabridged


2 [bong-goh, bawng-]
noun, plural bongos, bongoes.
one of a pair of small tuned drums, played by beating with the fingers.
Also called bongo drum.

1915–20, Americanism; < American Spanish bongó

bongoist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To bongos
World English Dictionary
bongo1 (ˈbɒŋɡəʊ)
n , pl -go, -gos
a rare spiral-horned antelope, Boocercus (or Taurotragus) eurycerus, inhabiting forests of central Africa. The coat is bright red-brown with narrow cream stripes
[of African origin]

bongo2 (ˈbɒŋɡəʊ)
n , pl -gos, -goes
a small bucket-shaped drum, usually one of a pair, played by beating with the fingers
[American Spanish, probably of imitative origin]

Bongo (ˈbɒŋɡəʊ)
Omar. original name Albert Bernard Bongo. born 1935, Gabonese statesman; president of Gabon from 1967

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1920, from Amer.Sp. (West Indies, esp. Cuban), from a word of W. African origin, cf. Lokele (Zaire) boungu.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


pair of small single-headed Afro-Cuban drums. The two heads, which are respectively about 5 inches (13 cm) and about 7 inches (18 cm) across, are nailed or rod-tensioned to wooden, open-ended "shells" of the same height. Played with the hands and fingers, the drums are yoked together to help the performer execute lively rhythmic dialogues. Bongo drums were created about 1900 in Cuba for Latin American dance bands. Other Cuban folk drums are also called bongos.

Learn more about bongos with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Related Words
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature