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From Proto-Bantu *bàntʊ̀ pl (people), as reconstructed by the 19th-century linguist Wilhelm Bleek.


Bantu (countable and uncountable, plural Bantus or Bantu)

  1. (countable) A member of any of the African ethnic groups that speak a Bantu language.
  2. (South Africa, dated, now offensive) A black South African.
  3. (uncountable) The largest African language family of the Niger-Congo group, spoken in much of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Usage notesEdit

Black South Africans were at times officially called "Bantus" by the Apartheid regime. New legislation and documents from the South African government have replaced "Bantu" with "Black" due to the former word's derogatory connotations. Outside Southern Africa the term is still widely used as a term for the Bantu-speaking peoples.


See alsoEdit