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[min-struh l] /ˈmɪn strəl/
a medieval poet and musician who sang or recited while accompanying himself on a stringed instrument, either as a member of a noble household or as an itinerant troubadour.
a musician, singer, or poet.
one of a troupe of comedians, usually white men made up as black performers, presenting songs, jokes, etc.
Origin of minstrel
1175-1225; Middle English ministrel < Old French < Late Latin ministeriālis servant (noun use of adj.); see ministerial Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for minstrel
  • The minstrel performance is said to have been an unqualified success.
  • The dinner was given in the red room, and the occasion was enlivened by a minstrel band.
  • minstrel shows often follow the performances to help add money to the under-financed operation.
  • He appeared in vintage hits and worked up a minstrel routine.
  • The bandura was more than a wandering minstrel's best friend, however.
  • The jazz musician has come to be regarded as a sort of existential minstrel.
  • It comes from the cakewalk, a high-stepping dance popularized on the minstrel stage and which often served as the show's finale.
  • Investigate the influence of vaudeville and minstrel portrayals on traditional music.
  • Aside from it's use as a shanty, it has stylistic and historical connections with the minstrel stage.
  • There are also orchestrations to accompany singers that were prepared for vaudeville and minstrel performers.
British Dictionary definitions for minstrel


a medieval wandering musician who performed songs or recited poetry with instrumental accompaniment
a performer in a minstrel show
(archaic or poetic) any poet, musician, or singer
Word Origin
C13: from Old French menestral, from Late Latin ministeriālis an official, from Latin minister
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for minstrel

early 13c., from Old French menestrel "entertainer, poet, musician; servant, workman; good-for-nothing, rogue," from Medieval Latin ministralis "servant, jester, singer," from Late Latin ministerialem (nominative ministerialis) "imperial household officer, one having an official duty," from ministerialis (adj.) "ministerial," from Latin ministerium (see ministry). The connecting notion is via the jester, etc., as a court position.

Specific sense of "musician" developed in Old French, but in English until 16c. the word was used of anyone (singers, storytellers, jugglers, buffoons) whose profession was to entertain patrons. Only in 18c. was the word limited, in a historical sense, to "medieval singer of heroic or lyric poetry who accompanied himself on a stringed instrument." Reference to blackface music acts in U.S. is from 1843.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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minstrel in the Bible

(Matt. 9:23), a flute-player. Such music was a usual accompaniment of funerals. In 2 Kings 3:15 it denotes a player on a stringed instrument.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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