Definition of mbira in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /(ə)mˈbirə/


(Especially in southern Africa) another term for thumb piano.
Example sentences
  • The album is made entirely from a multitracked mbira (thumb piano) and occasional rhythmic accompaniment.
  • These songs conjure a sense of community and activity with their lively mbira parts and the ecstatic singing, making the mbira an instrument of sociality, festivity, and fierce activity.
  • The artist's brother makes mbiras, the musical instrument intimately associated with possession ceremonies; his grandfather carved head rests; and his mother was a potter and his source of inspiration.


Late 19th century: from Shona, probably an alteration of rimba 'a note'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mbi·ra

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.