Definition of Tswana in English:



  • 1A member of a southern African people living in Botswana, South Africa, and neighbouring areas.

    • ‘The Tswanas are the smallest ethnic group in Namibia.’
    • ‘Thank you to all my thousands of supporters, my people, all the farmers and all the Tswanas and Zulus who love me.’
    • ‘In the late 19th century, hostilities broke out between the Batswana and Boer settlers from the Transvaal.’
    • ‘The Tswanas right now are paying for primary and secondary education.’
    • ‘The rest were 10 Indians, two Americans, two Koreans, one Kenyan, five Malawians, a Belgian, one Senegalese, one Dutch, one Greek, one German national, two Ghanaians, three Tswanas, two Canadians, a Dane and two Irish nationals.’
  • 2[mass noun] The language of the Tswana, one of the official languages of South Africa.

    Also called Setswana
    • ‘Mary tells me there are CDs available each with 500 ‘everyday phrases’ in Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Tswana.’
    • ‘There are other languages, Tswana, Venda, and Ndebela.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The schoolbooks were in English, notably the ubiquitous Nelson's Royal Readers, and Plaatje emerged with English alongside Tswana as his main language.’
    • ‘It boasts a multi-lingual programme, including Sotho, Tswana, Pedi, Afrikaans and Xhosa, and creates an opportunity for writers to stimulate the often declining readership of their vernacular.’


  • Relating to the Tswana or their language.

    • ‘There was a Bushman village near Roger's camp and I walked there with Tumalano, his Tswana foreman, who spoke their language as well as English.’
    • ‘To the north, Tswana chiefs and notables became involved in commercial hunting and supplied timber to Kimberley before the railways and coal arrived in 1884.’
    • ‘The domination of the country by the Tswana polities has persisted in a nonethnic government through the easy assumption of the predominance of Tswana people, language, and customs.’
    • ‘The name Kami means acceptance in the Tswana language.’
    • ‘Traditional healers blessed the occasion and Tswana dancers in animal skins and traditional dress, were roundly cheered as they clapped and danced their way through their intricate dance.’


Stem of Setswana moTswana, plural baTswana.