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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ For ten minutes he becomes a wandering minstrel, illuminated by the bass-player following him with a torch from the stage.
▪ His minstrel songs led many people to insist he must be a southerner.
▪ One of the minstrels strummed his banjo.
▪ Others showed beaming brides and grooms, looking, thanks to the copying process, like black-faced riverboat minstrels.
▪ The minstrel stopped singing abruptly, and went outside.
▪ The minstrels paraded out in the same boisterous way they had come in.
▪ You recall what that minstrel told us some weeks back, Ralf?
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Minstrel \Min"strel\, n. [OE. minstrel, menestral, OF. menestrel, fr. LL. ministerialis servant, workman (cf. ministrellus harpist), fr. L. ministerium service. See Ministry, and cf. Ministerial.] In the Middle Ages, one of an order of men who subsisted by the arts of poetry and music, and sang verses to the accompaniment of a harp or other instrument; in modern times, a poet; a bard; a singer and harper; a musician.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

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.\n

\nSpecific 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.


n. 1 (context historical English) A medieval traveling entertainer who would sing and recite poetry, often to his own musical accompaniment. 2 One of a troupe of entertainers who wore black makeup (blackface) to present a variety show of song, dance and banjo music; now considered racist.

  1. n. a singer of folk songs [syn: folk singer, jongleur, poet-singer, troubadour]

  2. a performer in a minstrel show


v. celebrate by singing, in the style of minstrels


A minstrel was a medieval European singer.

Usage examples of "minstrel".

Mistral, the singer of Provence, the poet of love and joy, the minstrel of rustic labour and antique faiths, was pursuing, amid the homage of his apotheosis, the incredible cycle of his splendid existence.

A blackbird, whose cheery note suggested melodious memories drawn from the heart of the quiet country, was whistling a lively improvisation on the bough of a chestnut-tree, whereof the brown shining buds were just bursting into leaf,--and Alwyn, whose every sense was pleasantly attuned to the small, as well as great, harmonies of nature, paused for a moment to listen to the luscious piping of the feathered minstrel, that in its own wild woodland way had as excellent an idea of musical variation as any Mozart or Chopin.

Neferhotep had left a plot of ground in trust to the Necropolis, with the charge of administering its revenues for the payment of a minstrel, who every-year at the feast of the dead should sing the monody to the accompaniment of his lute.

Over the years, she had heard many bards and minstrels tell tales of Morgen le Fey and her evil Val Sans Retour.

Only the teamsters and the minstrel Starling seemed to have known when to stop drinking.

I gathered the beer had been good, the wine poor, while the resident minstrel had had small goodwill toward Starling for performing for his captive audience.

He spied out Sah-luma at once and smiled kindly,--there was not a trace of coldness in his manner toward his favored minstrel, and Theos noted this with a curious sense of sudden consolation and encouragement.

And in steerage, his fingers wandering across the keyboard of the battered theremin, no one noticed that the man they called the Minstrel had lit his cigarette without a match.

His residence is chiefly at Undercliff, his country seat, on the banks of the Hudson, near Cold Spring, surrounded by the most lovely and beautiful scenery in nature, which can not fail to keep the muse alive within him, and tune the minstrel to further and still higher efforts.

The deal would be finalized and the Minstrel Boy would be able to collect the balance of his cash after the report from the official valuer, an independent functionary whose word was absolute in all major sales to the house.

Then came the gracious Princess of Pleasure and her daughter Folly, leading her subjects - players of dice, cards and back-gammon, conjurers, bards, minstrels, storytellers, drunkards, bawds, balladmongers and pedlars with their trinkets in countless number, to be at length instruments of punishment to the damned fools.

The old minstrel of Belec had been sick that week with the beginnings of the fever that was to kill him, but Sir Gawaine had shown her a few new bransle steps as well as he could without music.

The performances of the blind minstrel of Caernarvon, Richard Robinson, excited his admiration beyond anything else that he mentions.

But Estral, who pursued the craft of the minstrels and seemed to come by incalculable amounts of information from unguessable sources, never said exactly where the trouble was emanating from.

It was in the fine hand of her friend Estral Andovian, a journeyman minstrel at Selium.