• synonyms


noun, plural Ban·tus, (especially collectively) Ban·tu.
  1. a member of any of several peoples forming a linguistically and in some respects culturally interrelated family in central and southern Africa.
  2. 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.
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  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of Bantu or the Bantu peoples.
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Related formsnon-Ban·tu, noun, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bantu

Historical Examples of bantu

  • As the Bantu vary in aspect, so do they also in intelligence.

    Impressions of South Africa

    James Bryce

  • Throughout this entire Bantu division the prefix U means a country.

    Stanley in Africa

    James P. Boyd

  • To the south of the Congo the various Bantu tribes are still little known.

    The Races of Man

    Joseph Deniker

  • Writing of a Bantu tribe, M. Jounod says, Most often taboos are inexplicable.

  • Mr. Frazer does not, of course, adopt the Bantu myth as settling the question.

British Dictionary definitions for bantu


  1. 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
  2. plural -tu or -tus Southern African taboo a Black speaker of a Bantu language
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  1. denoting, relating to, or belonging to this group of peoples or to any of their languages
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Word Origin for Bantu

C19: from Bantu Ba-ntu people


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
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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper