Definition of Bantu in English:


Line breaks: Bantu
Pronunciation: /banˈtuː
, ˈbantuː

noun (plural same or Bantus)

  • 1A member of an extensive group of indigenous peoples of central and southern Africa.
    More example sentences
    • The Bantus, particularly the Kikuyu, established a stronghold in Kenya's interior around Mount Kenya, largely as a result of their sophisticated tools and weapons.
    • Torture and war survivor counselor Sherif Amin, who is also Somali, says Somalis here will treat the Bantus with respect.
    • The arrival of the Bantus from the north about 1,600 years ago in Zambia changed the landscape from that of hunters/gatherers to that of farmers.
  • 2 [mass noun] The group of Niger-Congo languages spoken by the Bantu peoples, including Swahili, Xhosa, and Zulu.
    More example sentences
    • Kenya is a multilingual and multicultural nation, with 42 different languages spoken, including Bantu, Arabic, and Nilotic.
    • The Swahili language, a mixture of Bantu and Arabic, developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.
    • Swahili, which comes from the Arabic word meaning ‘coast,’ is a mix of Arabic and the African language Bantu.


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  • Relating to the Bantu peoples or their languages.
    More example sentences
    • The San people were also similarly displaced and reduced in numbers by the arrival of invading Bantu farmers (and later by white farmers) to the south a few centuries later.
    • He said that according to old Bantu law, virginity was sacred.
    • It's a land where Bantu roots and Islam have intertwined since the tenth century.


plural (in certain Bantu languages) of -ntu 'person'.


The word Bantu became a strongly offensive term under the old apartheid regime in South Africa, especially when used to refer to a single individual. In standard current use in South Africa the term black or African is used as a collective or non-specific term for African peoples. The term Bantu has, however, continued to be accepted as a neutral ‘scientific’ term outside South Africa used to refer to the group of languages and their speakers collectively.

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