Definition of Kikuyu in US English:


nounPlural kikuyus, Plural Kikuyus

  • 1A member of the largest ethnic group in Kenya.

    • ‘By the 1950s urbanization was combining with grievances about forced labour during the Second World War, and with the ongoing land question, to produce unprecedented resentment among the Kikuyu.’
    • ‘Although most members were Kikuyus, they encouraged all ethnic groups to join together to achieve independence.’
    • ‘For his generation that was born in Kenya with its mixture of Kikuyus and whites, Indians and Masais, the memories are of the magical years of school and friendships and the lurking fear of violence that was never far away.’
    • ‘Among the Kikuyu of Kenya, a person of advanced age is said to be as old as Kagogo, the vernacular reference to the hadada ibis.’
    • ‘There are a large number of strong and influential ethnic groupings in Kenya including the Kikuyu, Luo, Kelanjin, Samburu and the Masai.’
  • 2The Bantu language of the Kikuyu.

    • ‘Other ethnic languages include Luo, Kikuyu, Kamba, Luyia, Gusii, and Kalenjin, which are usually spoken at home.’
    • ‘The Kenyan writer Ngugi has become so distrustful of the capacity of English to capture the nuances of his stories that he now only writes in his native Kikuyu.’
    • ‘Major ethnic languages in Kenya include Kikuyu, Luo, Kiluyia, Kikamba, Samburu, Maasai, and others.’
    • ‘EAE is greatly influenced by such languages as Swahili at large, Kikuyu in Kenya, Chichewa in Malawi, Luo in Kenya and Tanzania, and Shona in Zimbabwe.’
    • ‘Like India, Kenya too has many languages and Caroline writes poems in three languages, English, Swahili, and Kikuyu.’
  • 3A creeping perennial grass which is native to Kenya and cultivated elsewhere as a lawn and fodder grass.

    Pennisetum clandestinum, family Gramineae

    • ‘The grass is sodden and clumped up in deep woven kikuyu mounds.’
    • ‘This is a good option if your lawn has the sort of grass with runners, like kikuyu.’
    • ‘But it was this raft of feet and noise that followed a disappointed Charlie down through the kikuyu grass at the edge of the dunes.’
    • ‘Margaret rang in with a question about lawns - she says hers looks very sad - it's a mixture of couch, kikuyu and dichondria - but one area doesn't want to grow anything at all.’
    • ‘The couch and kikuyu have both responded well to the treatment and have provided a thick matting of grass on the surface.’


  • Relating to the Kikuyu people or their language.

    • ‘For example, Kikuyu teachers need to be empowered to use other means of discipline beyond corporal punishment, so that the child's rights are protected and the practices of the home are respected.’
    • ‘It is perhaps understandable that the Kikuyu people who reside on its lower slopes thought it fit for Gods' abode.’
    • ‘One Kikuyu female farmer, for example, approached a large farm with a proposal to pay a small fee to tap into their irrigation system.’
    • ‘Even worse than simply not knowing one's own culture is, to use a Kikuyu proverb, when one does not know that one does not know.’
    • ‘A Kikuyu dish, Irio, often served with curried chicken, is made from beans, maize, and potatoes or cassava mashed to a thick pulp.’


A local name.