If you were a lord in medieval times — back before radio or TV — you may have employed a minstrel for entertainment. The minstrel would keep your household amused by playing music and singing songs about faraway places.

The word minstrel traces back to the Old French word menestral, meaning “entertainer, servant.” In medieval times, nobles would often employ a minstrel to recite poems and sing songs accompanied by music, so the minstrel was both entertainer and servant. A “wandering minstrel” is a singer who wanders from house to house for pay. Minstrel shows were traveling variety shows in 19th century America, considered offensive now because performers often wore "blackface" makeup and performed ugly racial stereotypes.

Definitions of minstrel
  1. noun
    a singer of folk songs
    synonyms: folk singer, jongleur, poet-singer, troubadour
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    Woodrow Wilson Guthrie
    United States folk singer and songwriter (1912-1967)
    Peter Seeger
    United States folk singer who was largely responsible for the interest in folk music in the 1960s (born in 1919)
    type of:
    singer, vocaliser, vocalist, vocalizer
    a person who sings
  2. noun
    a performer in a minstrel show
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    corner man, end man
    a man at one end of line of performers in a minstrel show; carries on humorous dialogue with the interlocutor
    interlocutor, middleman
    the performer in the middle of a minstrel line who engages the others in talk
    type of:
    performer, performing artist
    an entertainer who performs a dramatic or musical work for an audience
  3. verb
    celebrate by singing, in the style of minstrels
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    type of:
    produce tones with the voice
Word Family

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