Word of the Day


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a type of entertainment in which people sing popular songs while recorded music is played

Origin and usage

The word karaoke comes from the Japanese words ‘kara’ meaning ’empty’ and ‘oke’ meaning ‘orchestra’. It first became popular in English in 1979.


Karaoke is a Japanese word that refers to a performance in which a person sings along with recorded music. It’s a popular form of entertainment at restaurants and clubs: amateur singers choose their favourite well-known song to sing and then perform it for the crowd.

Most karaoke performances include some special equipment, including a microphone, a large book of songs to choose from, instrumental recordings of these popular songs and a screen or projector displaying the song lyrics. The karaoke performer uses the screen to read the words to the song while the recorded track plays. Sometimes, the lyrics displayed also include changing colours or an animated symbol that helps the performer keep the rhythm and sing the proper lyrics in time with the music.

Karaoke originated in Japan in the 1970s. Since then, it has become popular all over the world and the karaoke industry generates billions of pounds each year.

Now, new technology has made it possible to host karaoke performances just about anywhere. Many video game systems, smartphone apps and computer programs allow users to sing along with their favourite songs with family and friends at home.


“Somebody rang me up the other day and said ‘Yellow’ was on a karaoke machine. That made me genuinely excited. It’s got a nice beat.”
(Chris Martin)

“I love karaoke and totally hog the mic when I go out and do it with my friends.”
(Charli XCX)

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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