noun, plural Ban·tus, (especially collectively) Ban·tu.
- a member of any of several peoples forming a linguistically and in some respects culturally interrelated family in central and southern Africa.
- a grouping of more than 500 languages of central and southern Africa, as Kikuyu, Swahili, Tswana, and Zulu, all related within a subbranch of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Kordofanian family.
- of, relating to, or characteristic of Bantu or the Bantu peoples.
- a group of languages of Africa, including most of the principal languages spoken from the equator to the Cape of Good Hope, but excluding the Khoisan family: now generally regarded as part of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo family
- plural -tu or -tus Southern African taboo a Black speaker of a Bantu language
- denoting, relating to, or belonging to this group of peoples or to any of their languages
1862, applied to south African language group in the 1850s by German linguist Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel Bleek (1827-1875), from native Ba-ntu “mankind,” from ba-, plural prefix, + ntu “a man, person.” Bantustan in a South African context is from 1949.