or ki-Swa·hi·li



noun, plural Swa·hi·lis, (especially collectively) Swa·hi·li for 1.
  1. a member of a Bantu people of Zanzibar and the neighboring coast of Africa.
  2. Also Kiswahili, ki-Swahili. the Bantu language of the Swahili people, used also as a lingua franca in Tanzania, Kenya, and parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Related formsSwa·hi·li·an, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for ki-swahili


  1. 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. Also called: Mswahili, Waswahili plural -lis or -li a member of a people speaking this language, living chiefly in Zanzibar
  1. of or relating to the Swahilis or their language
Derived FormsSwahilian, adjective

Word Origin for Swahili

C19: from Arabic sawāhil coasts
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 ki-swahili


name of a Bantu people inhabiting the coast of South Africa, 1814, from Arabic sawahil, plural of sahil "coast" + gentilic suffix -i.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper