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n. pl. Swahili or Swa·hi·lis
1. A Bantu language of the coast and islands of eastern Africa from Somalia to Mozambique. It is an official language of Tanzania and is widely used as a lingua franca in eastern and east-central Africa. Also called Kiswahili.
2. An inhabitant of coastal eastern Africa for whom Swahili is the mother tongue.

[Swahili, from Arabic sawāḥilī, of the coasts, from sawāḥil, pl. of sāḥil, coast, active participle of saḥala, to scrape off, smooth; see šḥl in Semitic roots.]

Swa·hi′li·an adj.


npl -lis or -li
1. (Languages) Also called: Kiswahili a language of E Africa that is an official language of Kenya and Tanzania and is widely used as a lingua franca throughout E and central Africa. It is a member of the Bantu group of the Niger-Congo family, originally spoken in Zanzibar, and has a large number of loan words taken from Arabic and other languages
2. (Peoples) Also called: Mswahili or Waswahili a member of a people speaking this language, living chiefly in Zanzibar
3. (Languages) of or relating to the Swahilis or their language
4. (Peoples) of or relating to the Swahilis or their language
[C19: from Arabic sawāhil coasts]
Swaˈhilian adj


(swɑˈhi li)

a Bantu language, serving as a lingua franca in E and E central Africa, and the native tongue of a number of ethnic groups living along the coast of E Africa and offshore islands.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Swahili - the most widely spoken Bantu languagesSwahili - the most widely spoken Bantu languages; the official language of Kenya and Tanzania and widely used as a lingua franca in east and central Africa
kanzu - (Swahili) a long garment (usually white) with long sleeves; worn by men in East Africa
Niger-Kordofanian, Niger-Kordofanian language - the family of languages that includes most of the languages spoken in Africa south of the Sahara; the majority of them are tonal languages but there are important exceptions (e.g., Swahili or Fula)
Bantoid language, Bantu - a family of languages widely spoken in the southern half of the African continent


[swɑːˈhiːlɪ] Nswahili m, suajili m


n (= African language)Suaheli nt
References in periodicals archive ?
In the sixteenth century, several Portuguese factors even employed Swahili elites as political and economic advisors.
This paper discusses a genre of Swahili popular music--taarab--by focusing on its historical development, context of performance, and relation to gender and religion.
Pearson turns his attention in the present book to East Africa and to the network of Swahili coastal societies.
The institute offers lessons in the African language of Swahili and also cultural exchanges between Africans and Japanese.
Their cultural unity is distinguished by Swahili as their common language.
It introduced children to numbers using Swahili words.
For instance, Joseph of the Bible becomes a young prophet in Islam (Qur an 6:84) who can explain the king's dream (12:43-49); epic poems have been composed about him in Arabic, Malay, Swahili, and Urdu, and in Persian by Firdausi himself (p.
The charge against the two read that on September 23, 2015, at Uhuru Park, Nairobi county, he uttered words in Swahili that have been translated as: "From Friday next week if teachers will not have been paid nobody will go to work and whoever goes shall be stoned, "indicating that it was desirable to bring death and physical injury to persons in Kenya.
Tanzanian fashion designers on Saturday showcased a new wildlife-inspired clothing collection to raise awareness for conservation during Swahili Fashion Week in Dar es Salaam.
Stiles and Katrina Daly Thompson (editors), Gendered Lives in the Western Indian Ocean: Islam, marriage, and sexuality on the Swahili coast.
by Salim Al Afifi Swahili food blogger Vanessa Mehri