[ soh-mah-lee, suh- ]

noun,plural So·ma·lis, (especially collectively) So·ma·li for 1.
  1. a member of a people speaking a Cushitic language and living primarily in Somalia, Somaliland, and adjacent regions.

  2. the Cushitic language of the Somali ethnic group.

  1. of or relating to Somalia, its people, or their language.

  2. of or relating to the Somali ethnic group or their language.

Origin of Somali

First recorded in 1800–10 as Samaulies (plural); from Somali Soomaali, a self-designation Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Somali in a sentence

  • The caravan comprised a dozen Arabs and thirty or forty Somalis of the Galla country.

    The River of Darkness | William Murray Graydon
  • The Arabs at once retaliated with a rifle-volley, and to such good effect that three or four of the Somalis were killed.

    The River of Darkness | William Murray Graydon
  • Foremost among the Somalis stood Oko Sam, his leopard skin dangling about his loins, and a fiendish expression on his face.

    The River of Darkness | William Murray Graydon
  • There was severe fighting, the Somalis abandoning their bush tactics and charging down on the troops.

  • The Somalis would not give up their arms and went away, but returned and attacked the station.

British Dictionary definitions for Somali


/ (səʊˈmɑːlɪ) /

  1. plural -lis or -li a member of a tall dark-skinned people inhabiting Somalia

  2. the language of this people, belonging to the Cushitic subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of Somalia, the Somalis, or their language

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