One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounPlural tsotsisSouth African
1A young black urban criminal.
- ‘He approached several black policemen (who were unarmed until the 1980s) who, when they spotted the tsotsis, starting running.’
- ‘He remembers walking in downtown Joburg when, turning around, he noticed he was being followed by some tsotsis.’
- ‘Some writers describe situations where paranoid fears of crime and violence are dissolved by friendly warmth and wry smiles of supposed tsotsis instead.’
- ‘Even the tsotsis, the unkempt street ruffians of the 1930s, began to embrace the quest for style in the 1950s.’
- ‘These aims were not realized: high unemployment persisted; urban gangs such as the tsotsis and the Russians, as well as delinquency, flourished.’
- 1.1historical A young black gangster belonging to a group prominent in the 1940s and 1950s, affecting a special language and flashy dress.
1940s: said to be a Sotho corruption of zoot suit.
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