Definition of askari in English:



  • 1(in East Africa) a soldier or police officer.

    • ‘They were local askaris who thought we were rebels from the north.’
    • ‘They should instead take comfort in the fact that African askaris and Indian sepoys fought as mercenaries in the armies of the British Empire.’
    • ‘‘They don't like butterfly farmers-we are like askaris to them,’ says Kiti, using the Swahili word for soldiers or guards.’
    • ‘I was quietly removed from my African childhood whose boundary was marked with a razor wire fence and an armed askari at the gate and placed in a rented terraced house in Ealing.’
    • ‘Facing them 200 yards away are the neat files of white sacks containing split peas and maize, each attended by companies of askari.’
    • ‘The askari has technical, military training, and his goal is the ‘self-preservation ‘of his group.’’
  • 2AskariSouth African historical A member of the ANC who changed sides and joined the apartheid government's police force.

    • ‘Together with Askaris (turned ANC cadres) based at the police's Vlakplaas unit, they had been instructed to hijack or damage vehicles, smash shop windows and assault people during the marches.’


Late 19th century: from Arabic ‘askarī ‘soldier’.