Definition of Shona in English:



  • 1A member of a group of peoples inhabiting parts of southern Africa. The Shona comprise over three quarters of the population of Zimbabwe, and smaller groups live in South Africa, Zambia, and Mozambique.

    See also Mashona
    • ‘There are two main ethnic groups, the Shona, who represent 75 percent of the population, and the Ndebele, who represent 19 percent.’
    • ‘The same is true for an Ijaw Nigerian or a Shona Zimbabwean.’
    • ‘He is a government loyalist, a former police boss, a ruthless campaigner and inquisitor when it comes to identifying the opposition, and a member of the ruling ethnic group, the Shonas.’
    • ‘Many pieces of this type - aprons, dolls, beaded boxes, baskets, and medicine gourds - have been attributed to the Ndau of Zimbabwe, who are a Shona subgroup.’
    • ‘Social organization in the Shona was based on distinctions between commoners and a ruling class.’
    • ‘The latter invaded from what is now South Africa in the 1840s to assimilate some Shona as lower-class subjects.’
    • ‘Now we are whites, blacks, coloureds, Asians, Shonas, Ndebeles…’
  • 2[mass noun] Any of the closely related Bantu languages spoken by the Shona, with over 5 million speakers altogether.

    • ‘In others, such as Hausa, Shona, and Swahili, because of bilingualism and code-mixing, the influence may have affected not only vocabulary but also structure.’
    • ‘A biochemist, he is a Manyika (a Shona speaker) from Manicaland province who became Zimbabwe's youngest member of parliament in 1980.’
    • ‘A confrontation which in the past gave rise to a Shona word meaning ‘the storm that cleanses’ - a storm that has cost 100,000 lives and has a worrying resonance within the current crisis.’
    • ‘After we saw the movie last Saturday, I was chatting with Bill, and he said his field methods consultant's mother is a Shona speaker.’
    • ‘In common with other Bantu languages, Shona has a basic CV syllable structure.’


  • Relating to the Shona or their languages.

    • ‘In his presentation in Harare, Makoni highlighted the importance of ‘hunhu’, a Shona word for accepted African moral standards.’
    • ‘The musical short film, based on a Shona folk tale, will premiere at ZIFF complete with a live performance of the songs in the film.’
    • ‘When some Ndebele challenged this Shona dominance in the 1980s, his army's notorious Fifth Brigade murdered, raped and pillaged its way through Matabeleland.’


A local name.