ukulele [yoo-kuh-ley-lee; Hawaiian. oo-koo-ley-ley] /ˌyu kəˈleɪ li; Hawaiian. ˌu kʊˈleɪ leɪ/ Show IPA
a small, guitarlike musical instrument associated chiefly with Hawaiian music.
1895–1900, Americanism; < Hawaiian ʿukulele leaping flea (ʿuku flea + lele to jump, leap), a nickname given to British army officer Edward Purvis (who popularized the instrument at the court of King Kalakaua), in reference to his lively playing style