Definition of Swahili in English:


Line breaks: Swa|hili
Pronunciation: /swəˈhiːli
, swɑː-/

noun (plural same)

1 [mass noun] A Bantu language widely used as a lingua franca in East Africa and having official status in several countries. There are probably fewer than 2 million native speakers, but it is in everyday use by over 20 million. Also called Kiswahili.
More example sentences
  • Many of the dialects borrow from Bantu languages, Swahili, Arabic, English, and French.
  • One of the most important integrating forces is the use of the national lingua franca - Swahili, a language spoken and revered by nearly all Tanzanians.
  • I also learned that in Tanzania, they speak over 150 different tribal languages, but Swahili is the official mother tongue. just imagine!
2A member of a people of Zanzibar and nearby coastal regions, descendants of the original speakers of Swahili.
More example sentences
  • This synthesis of spiritual worldviews is not unique to Hausa Islam, but is found in most other Afro-Islamic communities, such as those of the Somali, the Swahili, and the Bambara.
  • Derived from a Swahili, the word means working together.


Back to top  
Relating to Swahili or to its native speakers.
More example sentences
  • There is also the Swahili coast - that is the Tanzanian Coastline - with some great beaches south of Dar es Salaam.
  • I never managed to figure out the difference between samosas and sambusas (I think it's simply that the latter is the Swahili name).
  • My Swahili phrase book - bought at the station - came in surprisingly handy with ‘there is a grinding noise’.


from Arabic sawāḥil, plural of sāḥil 'coast'.

Definition of Swahili in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day vinaceous
Pronunciation: vʌɪˈneɪʃəs
of the colour of red wine