The ukulele, or alternatively abbreviated uke, is a chordophone classified as a plucked lute; it is a subset of the guitar family of instruments, generally with four strings or four courses of strings.
The ukulele originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian interpretation of small guitar-like instruments brought to the islands by the Portuguese. It gained great popularity elsewhere in the United States during the early 20th century, and from there spread internationally.
Tone and volume of the instrument vary with size and construction. Ukuleles come in four sizes, Soprano, Concert, Tenor, and Baritone.