[ maw-gah-dee-shoo ]
/ ˌmɔ gɑˈdi ʃu /
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a seaport in and the capital of Somalia, in the S part.
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Italian Mo·ga·di·scio [maw-gah-dee-shaw]. /ˌmɔ gɑˈdi ʃɔ/.

Words nearby Mogadishu

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


Where is Mogadishu?

Mogadishu is the capital of the African country of Somalia, which has been besieged by a civil war since 1991.

More about Mogadishu

Situated on the Indian Ocean, Mogadishu, known locally as Xamar or Hamar, is a historic center of trade, commerce, and culture in the region. Mogadishu was under African and Arabic control until Italy and the U.K. colonized Somalia in the late 19th century. Mogadishu was established as the capital of Somalia when the country claimed its independence in 1960.

Somalia joined the Arab League in 1974, a regional confederation of Middle Eastern states, but political turmoil, assassinations, and Soviet influence eventually led to governmental collapse in the 1980s and a civil war in 1991. The United Nations sent a peacekeeping mission to restore order, and in 1992, the U.S. military entered Somalia to attempt humanitarian aid.

In 1993, two Black Hawk U.S. military helicopters were shot down by Somali militants over Mogadishu, and the mission to retrieve the pilots resulted in the deaths of several hundred Somali militia members and civilians as well as 18 Americans. The conflict is called the Battle of Mogadishu, popularly referred to as Black Hawk Down, from the title of a book (1999) and film (2001) on the subject.

In the years since, famine, drought, and war have wracked Mogadishu, with the terrorist group Al-Shabaab seizing control of Mogadishu in 2011. Many bombings have notably blasted Mogadishu, with a truck bomb taking nearly 600 lives in October 2017.

How is Mogadishu used in real life?

Given its recent history of war and terrorism, Mogadishu is widely discussed in political, military, diplomatic, humanitarian, and academic contexts. It’s perhaps most familiar to the average Western person for the Black Hawk Down incident depicted in the book and film of the same name. For better or worse, the city is popularly associated with extremism and terrorism—but do note that the city has a long and rich history.

The Mogadishu Line is a point at which efforts to deliver aid to an area (not just in Mogadishu) move from humanitarian to combative (i.e,. crossing the Mogadishu Line by sending in soldiers). This term was coined in the 1990s after the UN’s unsuccessful missions in Mogadishu.

Mogadishu is also the title of a 2011 award-winning play by Vivienne Franzmann, about the relationship between a white teacher and a black student.



This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use Mogadishu in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Mogadishu

/ (ˌmɒɡəˈdɪʃuː) /

the capital and chief port of Somalia, on the Indian Ocean: founded by Arabs around the 10th century; taken by the Sultan of Zanzibar in 1871 and sold to Italy in 1905. Pop: 1 257 000 (2005 est)Local spelling: Muqdisho Italian name: Mogadiscio (ˌmɒɡəˈdɪʃɪˌəʊ-ˈdɪʃəʊ)
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