Singing without a live orchestra or band. Originally meaning "without orchestra
," it is a combination of Japanese "kara" meaning "empty/bare-handed
" as in "karate
", and the "okee" sound from the first syllable of "orchestra" as pronounced by Japanese.
The guy who thought up karaoke
created a bar owner's dream, because as patrons provide their own entertainment by singing along with a machine, management saves a fortune by not hiring talented musicians.