General English

Cars & Driving

  • noun a type of right-angled union for a pipe or flexible hose, comprising a ring-shaped piece on the end of the pipe through which a threaded hollow bolt is passed
  • noun a drum-shaped central part of an axle casing containing the differential


  • verb to force entry, break in, especially by means of the battering device to which the name has been given, based roughly on its shape. (Previously, shovels were known as banjos.) An item of police slang heard in the 1990s.

Origin & History of “banjo”

The origins of banjo are uncertain, but its likeliest source seems to be bandore, the name of a 16th-century stringed instrument similar to the lute. It has been argued that in the speech of Southern US blacks, amongst whom the banjo originated, bandore became banjo, perhaps under the influence of mbanza, a term for a similar instrument in the Kimbundu language of Northern Angola (although it might be more plausible to suggest that mbanza is the immediate source, altered by English-speakers more familiar with bandore).

Bandore itself appears to be a variant of pandore or pandora, which comes from Greek pandoura ‘three-stringed lute’. A more far-reaching modification produced mandore, likewise a term for a lutelike instrument. The Italian version of the word, mandola, is familiar in English from its diminutive form, which has given us mandolin (18th c.).