Definition of Zulu in English:



  • 1A member of a South African people traditionally living mainly in KwaZulu-Natal province. The Zulus formed a powerful military empire in southern Africa during the 19th century before being defeated in a series of engagements with Afrikaner and British settlers.

    • ‘The effect is, as his guitarist Xola Nkabinde admits, ‘Johnny Clegg knows more about Zulu custom than many urban Zulus today’.’
    • ‘The romance of Mpondo history - or that of the Sotho or Xhosa or Zulu - was that they retained some of their land and their culture.’
    • ‘The British endured similar military embarrassment at the hands of Indians, Afghans, Zulus and Boers.’
    • ‘Under his leadership in the 1840s, the Swazis expanded their territory to the Northwest and stabilized the southern frontier with the Zulus.’
    • ‘The great rivals to the Shonas are the Ndebeles, who are offshoots of the Zulus.’
    • ‘The resurgence of traditional practices is confirmation that like the other native communities of Africa, the Zulus feel renewed pride in their history and culture.’
    • ‘Thank you to all my thousands of supporters, my people, all the farmers and all the Tswanas and Zulus who love me.’
    • ‘This battle, pitting the British against the native Zulus, has been thoroughly analyzed throughout the years.’
    • ‘The Matabeles are an off-shoot of the once mighty Zulus who conquered most of southern Africa in the early 19th Century.’
    • ‘The Zulus, nonetheless, remained a potent force, defeating the British in the historic battle of Isandhlwana before themselves being finally conquered in 1879.’
    • ‘Indians and Zulus, Xhosas and coloureds, Anglos and Afrikaners are so geographically and economically integrated that they could not be parted without catastrophic consequences.’
    • ‘While intergroup tensions over resources, entitlements, and political dominance remain, those conflicts are as likely to pit Zulu against Zulu as Zulu against Xhosa or African against Afrikaner.’
    • ‘The Zulus recognize the existence of a supreme being.’
    • ‘Wars against the Zulus in South Africa or against the Chinese in Indo-China seemed to be merely a waste of money and troops, with no clear European pay-off.’
    • ‘For thousands of years, warriors, such as the Vikings, Zulus, Native Americans, Samurai and many others, have followed a tradition of decorating their instruments of war.’
    • ‘The Ndebeles consider themselves part of the Zulu nation and would ideally like to break away and form a new country with the Zulus in South Africa.’
    • ‘But once again, neither the Zulus nor the Plains Indians had artillery.’
    • ‘The Ngoni, originally from South Africa, escaped from the Boers and Zulus and settled in Eastern Zambia.’
  • 2mass noun The Bantu language of the Zulus, related to Xhosa and spoken by over 9 million people. It is one of the official languages of South Africa.

    Also called isiZulu
    • ‘‘Lyrically dangerous’ is how he refers to himself as he tells his story in a mix of Tsotsi-taal, Zulu, Afrikaans and English words.’
    • ‘He spoke in a relaxed tone about his life in exile in South Africa, saying he fills his days with reading and writing… and learning Zulu in a show of gratitude to his hosts.’
    • ‘It is a Bantu language closely related to Zulu, Swazi, and Ndebele.’
    • ‘In addition to Swahili, Hausa, Gikuyu and Zulu are being taught as departmental offerings.’
    • ‘But quite rightly, within their families the proud Afrikaners will maintain their traditions, and their language will take its place alongside Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, and all the other tribal languages.’
    • ‘All the music is organically co-written and sung in Zulu, English and Fanigalo (urban slang).’
    • ‘One year I had a class of very diverse cultures with some children speaking Xhosa, Zulu, Tswane, Afrikaans and even French.’
    • ‘The addition of Mozambican vocalist Jaco Maria added a flamboyant dimension to the skilled band with lyrics in Shope, Portuguese, Bitonga, English and Zulu.’
    • ‘It would be almost simultaneous translation between French and English, and then into Zulu and Soga.’
    • ‘This is the opposite of the increasing standardization of the languages of Xhosa and Zulu, which occurred through missionary activity and later state controls.’
    • ‘The leaflets have been published in seven of the eleven official language, namely: Afrikaans, Tsonga, Sesotho, Zulu, English, Venda and Xhosa.’
    • ‘Google's pages are available in dozens of languages (including Zulu, Xhosa, Esperanto, Klingon, and Pig Latin).’
    • ‘Bailey answered in Zulu to make the point that English is as impenetrable for a Zulu speaker as Zulu is for an English speaker.’
    • ‘Speaking in Zulu, Zuma explained the judicial process to the crowd, saying he was going to the high court and would appreciate their continued support.’
    • ‘In the new South Africa, television broadcasts can be heard in the most prevalent languages: English, Sotho, Xhosa, Zulu, and Afrikaans.’
    • ‘Users can currently create stories in English, Afrikaans and Zulu, but the package has been developed in a way that allows other languages to be added in the future.’
    • ‘The official language is English, but most people speak Sesotho or Zulu.’
    • ‘To add to that she has very little or no knowledge of Zulu or Xhosa, languages which Mafikizolo uses.’
    • ‘Performed in Zulu, Afrikaans, English and Xhosa, each performer speaks in his or her native language.’
    • ‘South Africa is in fact a countries of minorities, and those who speak Afrikaans are almost as numerous as those that speak the two largest of the black languages, Xhosa and Zulu.’
  • 3A code word representing the letter Z, used in radio communication.

    • ‘Atlas 4 this is Zulu 7 Requesting immediate evac from, Bigs hand me that map, Dog Niner Alpha Zero.’


  • Relating to the Zulus or their language.

    • ‘Since the origin of the kingdom and throughout its regions, Zulu society has been stratified according to wealth, age grade, gender, and martial status.’
    • ‘For example, the clans that form the original core of the Zulu kingdom and have the easiest access to the power of the royal court live closest to the Zulu capital in the area of Nongoma.’
    • ‘After crossing the Drakensberg, just like the Zulu people earlier, they believed they had reached ‘Heaven on Earth’.’
    • ‘At least since the first Inkatha Movement, beadwork has been promoted as a symbol of Zulu identity.’
    • ‘Founded in 1911 by the Zulu prophet Isaiah Shembe, the Nazareth Baptist Church abides by Shembe's teachings.’
    • ‘I'd have the strident voices of Zulu women talking to each other across the width of a suburban street, and the rhythmic songs of strikers toyi-toying among impatient traffic.’
    • ‘The park, already teeming with game, has been created by a unique partnership between conservationists and the six local Zulu tribes.’
    • ‘And there is Yesterday, the first-ever feature shot entirely in the Zulu language.’
    • ‘Raised among the wives of King Cetshwayo, she had a detailed knowledge of Zulu history and customs at the royal court.’
    • ‘Yet many Zulu men wanted their wives and daughters to remain in the rural areas, away from what they felt to be the corrupting influences of the city.’
    • ‘With the sting of the British defeat fresh in their minds and without a strong central leader, the solidarity of the Zulu people suffered and regional identities became increasingly important.’
    • ‘The Zulu army traveled on foot, and the soldiers carried only their spears and shields, because they would be fed by the local villagers wherever they were.’
    • ‘As these Voortrekkers gradually advanced north eastwards they started to encroach on Zulu territory.’
    • ‘Samurai swords, spears with shark teeth, poison darts and Zulu shields - not the possessions of a jungle warrior but just some of the exhibits at Blackburn's Museum.’
    • ‘The rise of the Zulu Kingdom under Shaka in the 1790s and early 1800s catapulted the minor Zulu chiefdom into the dominant regional power among hundreds of others.’
    • ‘It's based on a Zulu township choir and people of 16 and over are wanted to take part in a concert in the Marlborough International Jazz Festival marquee in the Priory Gardens.’
    • ‘The exhibition will also include other miniatures under glass and some based on Zulu beading.’
    • ‘He said: ‘We had a magnificent welcome of drum majorettes, gospel singing and Zulu dancing.’’
    • ‘There is an old Zulu proverb that goes something like this: ‘Every stream has a source.’’
    • ‘She does this because ‘love among the Zulu people is a very private matter’.’


From the stem of Zulu umZulu (plural amaZulu).