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[ban-too] /ˈbæn tu/
noun, plural Bantus (especially collectively) Bantu.
a member of any of several peoples forming a linguistically and in some respects culturally interrelated family in central and southern Africa.
a grouping of more than 500 languages of central and southern Africa, as Kikuyu, Swahili, Tswana, and Zulu, all related within a subbranch of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Kordofanian family.
of, relating to, or characteristic of Bantu or the Bantu peoples.
Related forms
non-Bantu, noun, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for Bantu


/ˈbɑːntʊ; ˈbæntuː; bænˈtuː/
a group of languages of Africa, including most of the principal languages spoken from the equator to the Cape of Good Hope, but excluding the Khoisan family: now generally regarded as part of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo family
(South African, taboo) (pl) -tu, -tus. a Black speaker of a Bantu language
denoting, relating to, or belonging to this group of peoples or to any of their languages
Usage note
Use of the term Bantu is only acceptable outside South Africa and when talking about this group of languages and their speakers. To refer to African people or peoples, the terms Black and African are acceptable within South Africa
Word Origin
C19: from Bantu Ba-ntu people
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Bantu

1862, applied to south African language group in the 1850s by German linguist Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel Bleek (1827-1875), from native Ba-ntu "mankind," from ba-, plural prefix, + ntu "a man, person." Bantustan in a South African context is from 1949.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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