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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 ?
Abdalla a ecrit en swahili et etait bien connaissant des genres swahilis locaux et des conventions discursives a travers des specifications linguistiques et verbales (de la critique, des emotions, des reflexions) qui utilisent pleinement la richesse et la profondeur du kimvita, le dialecte du kiswahili parle a Mombasa, comme reservoir d'expression.
This is combined with the first published English translation (overseen by Abdalla himself) and a reprint of the original Swahili text, an important but almost inaccessible document.
In a dramatic volte-face, the British moved from a qualified acceptance of the "superior" Swahilis to a rejection that castigated them as agents of the migrant hinterlanders' corruption.
An oral tradition, born of mutuality and shared objectives, that once stressed the common origins of both hinter-landers and Swahilis was swiftly replaced by a new history, redefined in separate origins, hostility, and claims of the hinterlanders' deprivation of territory and opportunity by Arabs and rich Swahilis, whose much-flaunted gains under colonialism were greatly resented.
Swahilis were no longer workshy spivs but the pillars of a new town elite - and the Mijikenda had been born.
The ~myth of Singwaya' was appropriated from the Swahili to form the historical basis for the ~Mijikenda', a hinterland identity which reflected the attenuation or denial of patronage links with the town and a ~shared experience of dispossession' (p.
Last weekend (December 9), an article bearing the headline 'Finding the perfect dress for a Swahili wedding' was published in The Star Weekend edition.
The Swahili people are one of the local tribes represented in the coastal region.
The so-called 'new', or 'experimental' novel (1) in Swahili emerged in the early 1990s with the publication of its founding text, the dilogy Nagona and Mzingile by Euphrase Kezilahabi.
In this view, many Swahili writers depict in their works apocalyptic and dystopian pictures of the future--the world before and after the global catastrophe, dominated by dictatorial powers, struck by hunger and drowning in the abyss of ecological and economic hardships.
This book was published in Tubingen in 1850; Bishop Edward Steer wrote A Handbook of the Swahili language as Spoken in Zanzibar.
Since Portuguese administrators in East Africa became dependent on the Swahili as a result of the conceptual categories they employed, we should more closely scrutinize the role and legacies of preconceptions in cross-cultural interaction.