Definition of Xhosa in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈkɔːsə//ˈkəʊsə/


  • 1A member of a South African people traditionally living in the province of Eastern Cape. They form the second largest ethnic group in South Africa after the Zulus.

    • ‘The first two were fitful operations against the Xhosas by the ailing Dutch East India Company, as was the third (in which the Khoikhoi also fought), the first by the British.’
    • ‘Indians and Zulus, Xhosas and coloureds, Anglos and Afrikaners are so geographically and economically integrated that they could not be parted without catastrophic consequences.’
    • ‘Amampondo are Xhosa musicians from Cape Town who began playing together 23 years ago and have famously been recommended by Nelson Mandela as ambassadors for South African music.’
    • ‘On the frontiers of the area claimed by the Dutch, there were formidable African peoples, especially the Xhosa on the eastern Cape frontier, who disputed the further expansion of European settlement.’
    • ‘The bloody battle was the largest counter-attack ever mounted by Xhosas against the British.’
    • ‘Maqume is a Xhosa and maths teacher and also deputy school principal at Ntabeni Junior Secondary School at Xonya near here.’
    • ‘The tiny Repo-Martel played a six year old, a Xhosa woman, men, and women.’
    • ‘Crime is rarely reported as three South Africans or three Xhosas or three Zulus having committed the crime. - L Avoniran, King William's Town’
    • ‘Communication XYZ is excessively confrontational and controversial, especially to Xhosa circumcised males.’
    • ‘On Saturday, early risers can join a merry procession from the Arboretum to the tourism centre at 9am, with Xhosa dancers, an ancient ox wagon, marimba players, and Percheron horses coming along.’
    • ‘It seems the artist took great technical care and sensitivity in portraying the beauty and nobility of the Xhosa despite the tragic circumstances of the story.’
    • ‘We know much about the shifting value of beads in trade with the Xhosa.’
    • ‘He began to have political differences and decided to start his own newspaper, Imvo Zabantsundu, which soon became a mouthpiece of the Xhosas.’
    • ‘I have never seen a film where Xhosas are in a war.’
    • ‘The Xhosas, whose greatest son, Nelson Mandela, would be born just 61 years later, honoured her vision.’
    • ‘His playmates were Xhosa children and he was to retain a lifelong fluency in the language.’
    • ‘Zuma thanked the people of the Eastern Cape for their support, adding that it challenged any theory that the trouble he is in stems from tribal friction between the Zulus and Xhosas.’
    • ‘Competition for scarce resources in South Africa also led to conflict with other ethnic groups, particularly the Xhosa.’
    • ‘Martin said he would like to see Xhosa actors playing the role of Khoikhoi heroes like Harry the Strandloper, David Stuurman, Sarah Baartman, Allan Boesak and others, to acknowledge the cultural diversity.’
    • ‘The original Cape Colony was established though conquest of the Khoi by the Dutch in the seventeenth century and of the Xhosa by the British in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.’
    • ‘The Zulus supported the apartheid regime and are a thorn in the side of the new government, which is dominated by the Xhosas.’
    • ‘In the 1990s, Xhosa sought degrees in all fields.’
    • ‘The hearings are set for July 18-22 for Xhosas (Gcaleka and AmaRharhabe) and August 15-19 for Phondos (Western and Eastern Phondos) and Thembus (Dalindyebo region and Western Thembus).’
  • 2[mass noun] The Bantu language of the Xhosa, related to Zulu and spoken by over 7 million people. It is one of the official languages of South Africa.

    ‘young people recited verses in Xhosa’
    Also called isiXhosa
    • ‘Thanks to their work - and the availability of source code for Mozilla - a browser now exists in Zulu, Xhosa and four other languages.’
    • ‘Google's pages are available in dozens of languages (including Zulu, Xhosa, Esperanto, Klingon, and Pig Latin).’
    • ‘Isivivane and Nawe Unako are two separate collections that include prose, poetry, drama and short stories in Xhosa, Zulu and other indigenous languages as well as English and Afrikaans.’
    • ‘To add to that she has very little or no knowledge of Zulu or Xhosa, languages which Mafikizolo uses.’
    • ‘The Xhosa, also known as the South Nguni or Cape Nguni, are united by dialects of the Xhosa language and other cultural features, but they consist of several distinct peoples.’
    • ‘Performed in Zulu, Afrikaans, English and Xhosa, each performer speaks in his or her native language.’
    • ‘Do we have anything similar for it in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa or Zulu perhaps?’
    • ‘But we are also reacting to the rich inventiveness of this version created by Mark Dornford-May and Charles Hazelwood and performed in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu.’
    • ‘The language mix runs through English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa as well as eleven Asian languages and other assorted African dialects.’
    • ‘Mary Stuart tells me there are CDs available each with 500 ‘everyday phrases’ in Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Tswana.’
    • ‘Nelson Mandela, for example, describes in his autobiography the depth of presence of Robben Island in the Xhosa language.’
    • ‘Murray's piece I must learn to speak Xhosa raises complex issues around the politics of language and its function as a career of culture.’
    • ‘A Transkei citizen was defined as ‘every Xhosa - speaking Bantu person in the Republic’ that did not ‘belong to any Bantu homeland other than that of the Transkei’.’
    • ‘This is the opposite of the increasing standardization of the languages of Xhosa and Zulu, which occurred through missionary activity and later state controls.’
    • ‘The Xhosa language is properly referred to as isiXhosa.’
    • ‘I even tell them how we, in the Eastern Cape, are seen by other black language-speakers to be neglecting Xhosa for English.’
    • ‘You speak a black language, you speak Xhosa.’
    • ‘In the new South Africa, television broadcasts can be heard in the most prevalent languages: English, Sotho, Xhosa, Zulu, and Afrikaans.’
    • ‘It uses all the languages of South Africa, running subtitles in English when cast members break into Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Afrikaans, Tswana or any of a dozen other tongues.’
    • ‘But quite rightly, within their families the proud Afrikaners will maintain their traditions, and their language will take its place alongside Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, and all the other tribal languages.’
    • ‘South Africa is in fact a countries of minorities, and those who speak Afrikaans are almost as numerous as those that speak the two largest of the black languages, Xhosa and Zulu.’
    • ‘One year I had a class of very diverse cultures with some children speaking Xhosa, Zulu, Tswane, Afrikaans and even French.’
    • ‘For most of this period, up to the early 1990s, the minutes are in English, even though all the members of the CZWA would have spoken Xhosa as their first language.’
    • ‘The filmmakers used the original score, but made some changes to the libretto - the translation of the opera's lyrics into the Xhosa language works surprisingly well.’


  • Relating to the Xhosa or their language.

    • ‘This interplay between agency and structure is vital to the development of an analytical framework within which to make sense of a variety of types of cooperative work and their association with beer drinks in rural Xhosa society.’
    • ‘Little is known about the color symbolism of Xhosa beads apart from white.’
    • ‘Makgatho's body was not in the hall during the vigil service but kept in his room inside the house and guarded by elderly family members, who were to stay around the coffin overnight as part of Xhosa custom.’
    • ‘The story of Nongqawuse's fateful vision which presaged the ruin of the Xhosa nation comes alive in a recording of contemporary Xhosa children singing a folk song about it.’
    • ‘The museum houses exhibits of both cultural and natural history items of the Transkei, including local birds, mammals, geology, archaeology and Xhosa culture.’
    • ‘The result was the emergence of the Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Venda, Swazi, Sotho, Tswana, and Tsonga nations, along with the white Afrikaners.’
    • ‘This visually appealing embroidered visualisation of Xhosa history was created over several months by a collective of 120 women from the Hamburg region near Pedi in the Eastern Cape.’
    • ‘Monica Nkosiane, dressed in traditional Xhosa attire, is pleased to show visitors around the Jonopo cultural village and bed and breakfast near Qunu.’
    • ‘I gave the congregation the opportunity to learn first-hand about Xhosa culture.’
    • ‘And I had to tell them it was on male circumcision amongst the Xhosa tribes.’
    • ‘This skirt is still worn today, in a simplified version, by some Xhosa women on ceremonial occasions.’
    • ‘Her later books assist in comparison across different Xhosa peoples, as do similar volumes by others, but they lack the detail of her books on the Thembu.’
    • ‘‘You must start reading Xhosa stories that reflect our history and it is important that our children know their culture and language,’ said Balindlela.’
    • ‘Nosimithi lives close to the skies in a traditional rural Xhosa homestead like this one - where for generations children have learned about life, nature, the stars and their culture at the feet of their parents or grandparents.’
    • ‘‘I've never celebrated a birthday before with him and to be a guest at this party honouring Rolihlahla (Mandela's Xhosa name) is really nice,’ he said.’
    • ‘While serving as a pastor in East London, Rubusana helped found and edited Izwi Labatu, a Xhosa language newspaper based in East London, and acted as spokesperson for African pressure groups.’
    • ‘On 18 February 1857 the souls of dead Xhosa warriors would sweep in from the Indian Ocean and sweep the hated British into the sea, she said.’
    • ‘Apart from tasting traditional Xhosa food - from kudu steaks to samp and beans and stywe pap - the Canadians will be licking their fingers as they tuck into specially made Springbok wors.’
    • ‘It is studded with mother-of-pearl buttons that Xhosa raiders once snatched from the shirts of English herdboys newly settled in the Eastern Cape, and smeared with red ocher dug from the African earth.’
    • ‘Is it not Xhosa tradition that when ‘minors’ are circumcised they receive rites of passage and become ‘men?’’
    • ‘The yearly meetings of the association included a postchurch ‘beauty contest’ for the best white Sunday dress, in notable contrast to the later embrace of standardized Xhosa dress.’
    • ‘Speaking on behalf of AmaRharhabe King Maxhoba Sandile, Prince Zolile Burns - Ncamashe said the anniversary created an opportunity to inspire the richness embedded in Xhosa history and heritage.’
    • ‘The cattle-herding Xhosa tribes who lived around Lambasi, divided into small kingdoms, had seen enough shipwrecks to know that they might find treasure and useful material.’


From the stem of Xhosa umXhosa (plural amaXhosa).