Share this entry
tsotsi Line breaks: tsotsi
Pronunciation: /ˈtsɒtsi/

Definition of tsotsi in English:

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.

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.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources