Definition of tsotsi in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtsɒtsi/

noun (plural tsotsis)

South African
1A young black urban criminal.
Example sentences
  • He approached several black policemen (who were unarmed until the 1980s) who, when they spotted the tsotsis, starting running.
  • Some writers describe situations where paranoid fears of crime and violence are dissolved by friendly warmth and wry smiles of supposed tsotsis instead.
  • He remembers walking in downtown Joburg when, turning around, he noticed he was being followed by some tsotsis.
1.1 historical A young black gangster belonging to a group prominent in the 1940s and 1950s, affecting a special language and flashy dress.


1940s: said to be a Sotho corruption of zoot suit.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: tsotsi

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