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
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Now we are whites, blacks, coloureds, Asians, Shonas, Ndebeles…’
    • ‘The latter invaded from what is now South Africa in the 1840s to assimilate some Shona as lower-class subjects.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There are two main ethnic groups, the Shona, who represent 75 percent of the population, and the Ndebele, who represent 19 percent.’
    • ‘Social organization in the Shona was based on distinctions between commoners and a ruling class.’
    • ‘The same is true for an Ijaw Nigerian or a Shona Zimbabwean.’
  • 2mass 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In common with other Bantu languages, Shona has a basic CV syllable structure.’


  • Relating to the Shona or their languages.

    • ‘When some Ndebele challenged this Shona dominance in the 1980s, his army's notorious Fifth Brigade murdered, raped and pillaged its way through Matabeleland.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In his presentation in Harare, Makoni highlighted the importance of ‘hunhu’, a Shona word for accepted African moral standards.’


A local name.