English Words of (Unexpected) Greek Origin.

Learn easily Greek using the roots of the English words.

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Etymology of banjo

Posted by Johannes on 28 August 2011

Origin of the word banjo
The word banjo (a stringed instrument with four or five strings, usually associated with country music) comes from the Portoguese bandurra, from the Latin pandura, which is a transliteration of the Greek pandura (a three-string instrument; Gr: παντούρα).

From the same root:

mandolin, banjulele


 In modern Greek (Romeika)


a) banjo: banjo [Gr: μπάντζο; loanword]

b) mandolino: mandolin [Gr: μαντολίνο; loanword]

c) mandura: a folk music instrument [Gr: μαντούρα]


Post 186.


One Response to “Etymology of banjo”

  1. Really why said

    Perhaps – but the origin cold also be from Kimbundu (in part of what is now called Angola): “mbanza” – a three stringed instrument resembling a lute/guitar. Further, the fact that the banjo was introduced by West Africans to this hemisphere would suggest that Greek was not the only influence on the word’s development in English. Indeed, it is very likely that the Portug. was derived from the West African and entered Europe in that way. There is just no evidence that it was an instrument brought to the Americas by Europeans – so an African etymology is very probable too.

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