[yoo-kuh-ley-lee; Hawaiian. oo-koo-ley-ley]
a small, guitarlike musical instrument associated chiefly with Hawaiian music.
Also, ukelele.

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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To ukulele
World English Dictionary
ukulele or ukelele (ˌjuːkəˈleɪlɪ)
a small four-stringed guitar, esp of Hawaii
[C19: from Hawaiian, literally: jumping flea, from `uku flea + lele jumping]
ukelele or ukelele
[C19: from Hawaiian, literally: jumping flea, from `uku flea + lele jumping]

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

1896, from Hawaiian 'ukulele, lit. "leaping flea," from 'uku "louse, flea" + lele "to fly, jump, leap." So called from the rapid motion of the fingers in playing it. It developed from a Port. instrument introduced to the islands c.1879. Abbreviated form uke is attested from 1915.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
ukulele [(yooh-kuh-lay-lee)]

A small guitar, developed in Hawaii, with four strings.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Bands incorporate various adopted instruments such as the ukulele-the backbone of the string band-guitar and banjo.
The ridiculous one is the maudlin glissando on ukulele and steel guitar, the
  tear-duct of popular music.
Activities range from bamboo pole fishing to kite flying, and lei making and
  learning the ukulele.
Now the ukulele permeates the culture to an extent that it hasn't in more than
  half a century.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature