Definition of Khoisan in English:



  • 1[usually treated as plural] A collective term for the Khoikhoi (Hottentot) and San (Bushmen) peoples of southern Africa.

    • ‘The Bushmen, or Khoisan, or hunter-gatherer Khoi, were a physically similar but culturally distinct people who lived contiguously with the Khoikhoi.’
    • ‘The earliest known inhabitants of South Africa were Pygmies and Khoisan.’
    • ‘I think of the Khoisan, and I wonder if Saartje Bartman, who sprang from that blood, ever walked here.’
    • ‘Baartman became a symbol of the humiliation and subjugation experienced by both the indigenous Khoisan and blacks under colonialism and then apartheid.’
    • ‘Watts follows his presentation of the archaeological record with a review of the contemporary ethnographic data on ochre use amongst the Khoisan.’
    • ‘The relevant communities and the Khoisan will have an important say in the determination of the final resting places of the Kouga mummy and of Saartje Baartman.’
    • ‘His comments led Land Minister Thoko Didiza to interject, saying only the Khoisan would benefit from land restitution if the cut-off date was shifted.’
    • ‘In southern Africa, the Khoisan were pushed all the way to the southern tip of the continent.’
    • ‘The failure of the Khoisan to develop agriculture was not due to any inability of theirs as farmers but merely because southern Africa's wild plants were mostly unsuitable for domestication.’
    • ‘The first inhabitants of Mozambique were hunters and gatherers, ancestors of the Khoisan now found in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia.’
    • ‘Freda Gelderbloem shows off an indigenous plant once used for medicinal purposes by the Khoisan.’
  • 2A language family of southern Africa, including the languages of the Khoikhoi and San, notable for the use of clicks as consonants.

    • ‘Bantu, Khoisan, and Indo-European languages are spoken in Botswana.’


  • Relating to the Khoisan or their languages.

    • ‘But for her descendants - nomadic Khoisan people of southern Africa - death is never the end, the soul of a person who had wandered into a land of strangers had to simply return home.’
    • ‘When the British seized the colony in 1795, they moved into a long-established Dutch speaking community with its own culture, administration, and patterns of relationship with the black and Khoisan peoples of the subcontinent.’
    • ‘He said the return of Bartmann's remains to South Africa was a symbol of hope not only to the Khoisan people, but to the people of the entire African continent.’
    • ‘Members of the Khoisan language groups are the oldest surviving inhabitants of the land, but only a few are left in South Africa today - and they are located in the western sections.’
    • ‘Previous inhabitants of the region, branches of the Khoisan people, came up against Xhosa and Voortrekker cattle owners and were absorbed or removed with less ceremony, but left many names behind.’
    • ‘Others speak Khoisan languages, while a smaller percentage are native speakers of Indo-European languages like Afrikaans and English.’
    • ‘In nearly all cases this is a Bantu language; those speaking a Khoisan language number less than 6,000.’
    • ‘He said among the endangered cultures were the Tsonga culture of Tamba initiation, the Dry Stone Settlement and the Khoisan culture.’
    • ‘Essentially I am trying to represent her story through living people - people who reflect her and her spirit, such as contemporary Khoisan people.’
    • ‘Professor Nico Botha from the theology department asked for a balance between the search for a Khoisan identity and a communal South African identity.’
    • ‘Early Cape Town was a cosmopolitan mix of settlers and slaves, free burghers, convicts, political prisoners, ‘free blacks’, indigenous Khoisan people and others.’
    • ‘In pre-colonial times both the western Cape and the drier parts of the interior were occupied largely by Khoisan hunters, gatherers, and herders.’
    • ‘Speakers of Khoisan languages were most severely hit because the clicks of their language were simply dropped from their names and all kinds of bowdlerised versions of names have entered the identity papers.’
    • ‘That's what happened in southern Africa where the Khoisan people of southern Africa acquired cows, sheep and goats from herding people farther to the north and became herders themselves.’
    • ‘His recent retrospective shows his commitment over the years to the liberation struggle as well as such political causes as land reform and the plight of the Khoisan communities in Southern Africa.’
    • ‘The ancestors of the Khoisan people arrived in Namibia 2,000 years ago, followed by Bantu tribes from the north and east after AD 1500.’
    • ‘However, the policy also promotes the use and development of sign language and ‘heritage languages’ such as Khoisan and Indian languages.’
    • ‘A Khoisan project has been initiated with input at national, provincial, and local levels to protect Khoisan heritage.’
    • ‘These two ethnic groups, who share the same language, together with their cousins, the Bushmen, form the Khoisan peoples, the original inhabitants of Southern Africa.’
    • ‘The pastoral Khoisan instrumentation is also a dominating presence, effectively reflecting the film's South African setting.’


Blend of Khoikhoi and San.