Definition of Sotho in English:



  • 1A member of a group of peoples living chiefly in Botswana, Lesotho, and northern South Africa.

    • ‘However, we need to move on now to create a nation in which all of us are equal South Africans and not seen as women, Afrikaners, English, Zulu, Sotho and so on, Lekota said.’
    • ‘By the time of Moshoeshoe's death in 1870, ponies were widespread throughout the kingdom and the Sotho had become expert riders.’
    • ‘According to 1995 estimates, there were about 5.6 million people who identified themselves as southern or northern Sotho in South Africa.’
    • ‘The Sothos' worship of Modimo is mingled with ancestor worship, and indeed ancestors play a significant part in most traditional black African faiths.’
    • ‘About three-quarters of the clan groups are Nguni; the remainder are Sotho and Tsonga.’
  • 2[mass noun] The group of Bantu languages spoken by the Sotho peoples, of which the most important are Sepedi (also called Northern Sotho) and Sesotho (also called Southern Sotho). The term Western Sotho is sometimes used of the related language Setswana. Sepedi and Sesotho are official languages of South Africa.

    • ‘Sesotho, or Southern Sotho, is spoken in Lesotho as well as in parts of South Africa.’
    • ‘In the new South Africa, television broadcasts can be heard in the most prevalent languages: English, Sotho, Xhosa, Zulu, and Afrikaans.’
    • ‘Teaching was often in Cape Dutch, the children spoke a variety of African languages, such as Tswana, Sotho, or Koranna, and the teachers often spoke German.’
    • ‘It uses all the languages of South Africa, running subtitles in English when cast members break into Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Afrikaans, Tswana or any of a dozen other tongues.’
    • ‘They sing a programme of Christian, traditional and pop songs in a mixture of English, Zulu and Sotho.’


  • Relating to the Sotho peoples or their languages.

    • ‘This may explain the traditional use of the plant by Sotho and Zulu people to treat stress and bereavement.’
    • ‘The Sotho tradition also includes praise poems and folk tales, one of the most prominent of which is a tale concerning a boy named Santkatana, who saves the world by killing a giant monster.’
    • ‘The ancestors of the Sotho people entered the area south of the Limpopo River in several migrations.’
    • ‘A feature of Sotho kinship was that a person was allowed to marry a cousin who was a member of the same clan.’
    • ‘The first wave had little impact but the arrival of Nguni and Sotho peoples 800 years ago substantially changed power balances in the eastern part of the country.’


The stem of Basotho and Sesotho.