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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Sambo \Sam"bo\, n. [Sp. zambo, sambo.] A colloquial or humorous appellation for a negro; sometimes, the offspring of a black person and a mulatto; a zambo.


Sambo \Sam"bo\, n. [Sp. zambo bandy-legged, the child of a negro and an Indian; prob. of African origin.]

  1. A negro; sometimes, the offspring of a black person and a mulatto; -- formerly used colloquially or with humorous intent, but now considered offensive or racist by African-Americans. [Derogatory and offensive]

    Note: A children's book named Little Black Sambo was at one time popular in elementary schools, but the book has been removed from reading lists in many American schools due to the development of a reduced acceptance of patronizing depictions of negros, as well as the negative associations of the word itself.

  2. In Central America, an Indian and negro half-breed, or mixed blood.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

stereotypical name for male black person (now only derogatory), 1818, American English, probably a different word from sambo (n.1); like many such words (Cuffy, Rastus, etc.) a common personal name among U.S. blacks in the slavery days (first attested 1704 in Boston), probably from an African source, such as Foulah sambo "uncle," or a similar Hausa word meaning "second son."\n

\nIt could be used without conscious racism or contempt until circa World War II. When the word fell from polite usage, collateral casualties included the enormously popular children's book "The Story of Little Black Sambo" (by Helen Bannerman), which is about an East Indian child, and the Sambo's Restaurant chain, a U.S. pancake-specialty joint originally opened in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1957 (the name supposedly from a merging of the names of the founders, Sam Battistone and Newell "Bo" Bohnett, but the chain's decor and advertising leaned heavily on the book), which once counted 1,200 units coast-to-coast. Civil rights agitation against it began in 1970s and the chain collapsed, though the original restaurant still is open. Many of the defunct restaurants were taken over by rival Denny's.


"person of mixed blood in America and Asia," 1748, perhaps from Spanish zambo "bandy-legged," probably from Latin scambus "bow-legged," from Greek skambos. Used variously in different regions to indicate some mixture of African, European, and Indian blood; common senses were "child of black and Indian parentage" and "offspring of a black and a mulatto."


n. (context slang Ireland English) A sandwich.


Sambo may refer to:

  • Sambo (racial term), an obsolete term for a person with African heritage that is now considered offensive
  • Sambo (martial art), developed in the USSR
  • Sambo, the main character in the 1899 book The Story of Little Black Sambo
  • Sambo's, a restaurant chain
  • Sambo's Grave, grave of a slave (died 1736) at Sunderland Point in Lancashire, England
  • TG Sambo, a Korean computer manufacturer
  • Sambomaster, a Japanese rock band
  • Sammanboende (or samboende), a Swedish term for people in cohabitation
  • Sambo, the name in Ecuador for cucurbita ficifolia, a type of gourd
  • Sambo, a romanized term for the three ancestral treasures of Chinese culture
  • Sambo, Irish and Australian slang term for sandwich
  • Sambo, Angola, a commune in the municipality of Tchicala Tcholohanga, province of Huambo, Angola
Sambo (martial art)

Sambo (; ) is a Soviet martial art and combat sport. The word "SAMBO" is an acronym for SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya, which literally translates as "self-defense without weapons". Sambo is relatively modern since its development began in the early 1920s by the Soviet Red Army to improve their hand-to-hand combat abilities. It was intended to be a merger of the most effective techniques of other martial arts.

The pioneers of Sambo were Viktor Spiridonov and Vasili Oshchepkov. Oshchepkov died in prison as a result of the Great Purge after being accused of being a Japanese spy. Oshchepkov spent several years living in Japan and training in judo under its founder Jigoro Kano.

Spiridonov and Oshchepkov independently developed two different styles, which eventually cross-pollinated and became what is known as Sambo. Compared to Oshchepkov's judo-based system, then called "Freestyle Wrestling", Spiridonov's style was softer and less strength-dependent. This was in large part due to injuries Spiridonov sustained during World War I.

Anatoly Kharlampiev, a student of Vasili Oshchepkov, is also considered a founder of Sambo. In 1938, it was recognized as an official sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee.

Sambo (racial term)

Sambo is a term for a person with African heritage and, in some countries, also mixed with Native American heritage (see zambo).

Formerly, it had the technical meaning of a person having a mixture of black and white ancestry, more black than white—contrast with mulatto, quadroon, octoroon etc. in modern US English and British English.

Usage examples of "sambo".

All fled in different directions, except Sambo, who, presuming on the favor which the keeper had to him as a licensed wag, stood his ground, ducking his head with a facetious grin, whenever the master made a dive at him.

It was not Sambo, however, but Legree, who was pursuing them with violent execrations.

She sat in the living room, her feet propped against the coffee table with Sambo nestled contentedly in her lap.

Her intention was to continue feeding Sambo, who could be downright insistent, and talk at the same time.

She hung up the receiver and had already reached for her coat when Sambo reminded her he had yet to be fed.

Plague on that Sambo, to kick up his yer row between me and the new hands!

I know what you are thinking, Sambo, but this is the last thing I wanted, I can tell you.

Usk, the Kipchak sambo wrestler, was not as large as his partner Whale, but at six-feet two-inches and 250 pounds of muscle he was no midget.

It is closely related to judo, having borrowed many techniques from it, and on occasion judokas crossed over to compete successfully in sambo tournaments.

He grabbed my leg and pushed me back in a sambo takedown, then tried for a leghold that almost wiped me out.

Thai kick-boxers is valid for judo, and every leg takedown of sambo wrestling.

Sambo, Sambo, go back to the house with Miss Lucy and help her bring some things which she wants.

Stock Exchange, Jos--and, Sambo, never mind the elephant, but give me and Mr.

Or if, on the contrary, we had taken a fancy for the terrible, and made the lover of the new femme de chambre a professional burglar, who bursts into the house with his band, slaughters black Sambo at the feet of his master, and carries off Amelia in her night-dress, not to be let loose again till the third volume, we should easily have constructed a tale of thrilling interest, through the fiery chapters of which the reader should hurry, panting.

Miss Crawley was waiting in her carriage below, her people wondering at the locality in which they found themselves, and gazing upon honest Sambo, the black footman of Bloomsbury, as one of the queer natives of the place.