Definition of San in US English:



  • 1A member of the aboriginal peoples of southern Africa commonly called Bushmen.

    • ‘Cognatic systems are found among Whites, Caprivians and some San, while patrilineal descent is found among Khoekhoegowab- and Tswana-speakers.’
    • ‘Yet the research could also be twisted to bolster deep-seated prejudices against the San, probably the most abused and downtrodden ethnic group in southern Africa.’
    • ‘‘I knew very well,’ he said, ‘That one did not call someone a San to his face.’’
  • 2The group of Khoisan languages spoken by the San.

    • ‘San turned out not to be closely related at all.’
    1. 2.1 Any of the San languages.
      • ‘San is spoken in Namibia.’


  • Relating to the San or their languages.

    • ‘The human rights organisation claimed that the men spoke Secherechere, a San dialect, and at the time of their trial understood neither Setswana (the language of Botswana) nor any language other than their own.’
    • ‘Organized as a series of conversations conducted by young San interviewers that went out into their communities to collect the thoughts and feelings of their elders and peers, this compilation captures the spirit of modern San communities and helps create an understanding of their rich history.’


From Nama sān ‘aboriginals, settlers’.