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[juhm-boh] /ˈdʒʌm boʊ/ Informal.

noun, plural jumbos.
a very large person, animal, or thing.
U.S. Nautical.

very large:
the jumbo box of cereal.
noun (pl) -bos

See jumbo jet

“very large, unusually large for its type,” 1882, a reference to Jumbo, name of the London Zoo’s huge elephant (acquired from France, said to have been captured as a baby in Abyssinia in 1861), sold February 1882 to U.S. circus showman P.T. Barnum amid great excitement in America and great outcry in England, both fanned by Barnum. The name is perhaps from slang jumbo “clumsy, unwieldy fellow” (1823), which itself is possibly from a word for “elephant” in a West African language (cf. Kongo nzamba).

“I tell you conscientiously that no idea of the immensity of the animal can be formed. It is a fact that he is simply beyond comparison. The largest elephants I ever saw are mere dwarfs by the side of Jumbo.” [P.T. Barnum, interview, “Philadelphia Press,” April 22, 1882]

As a product size, by 1886 (cigars). Jumbo jet attested by 1964.


Very large; gigantic; humongous: I had a jumbo portion

[1897+; fr the London Zoo’s great elephant, sold in 1882 to P T Barnum; Jumbo is a version of the word for ”elephant” in various West African languages, for example, Kongo nzamba]


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