8 Beautiful Words You Will Love From The Swahili Language

Swahili is spoken primarily in Kenya and Tanzania, but speakers of this beautiful language can be found right across the continent of Africa.

Swahili borrows heavily from the Arabic language. Its patterns and flows reflect Arabic styles in different ways. Swahili words, for instance, end in a vowel. This is a common characteristic of the Arabic language.

The word Swahili itself means ‘coastal people’. Here are 8 basic but beautiful Swahili words you can add to your vocab.

1. Jameela (jah-mee-laa) – ‘beautiful’

The word Jameela means ‘beautiful’ in Swahili. It is borrowed from Arabic where it also has the same meaning. A handsome man is known as Jamil or Jameel. A beautiful woman is Jamila or Jameela.

2. Furaha (fuh-ra-haa) – ‘happiness’’

Furaha describes feelings of joy and happiness. When used to encourage someone else, the word changes Furahia or Furahi. It is used liberally during joyful ceremonies to rally the crowd to enjoy themselves.

man-and-woman-sitting-on-boatGit Stephen Gitau

3. Mahaba (mah-ha-bah) – ‘love’

Mahaba means the noun ‘love’. It is gotten from the Arabic word for love, Haba. By adding the prefix “ma”, the word can be adapted to mean “‘overflowing with love’.

4. Jabali (jah-bah-lee) – ‘rock’

Jabali literally means ‘rock’. The word is used to describe a strong person. It also means a member of a family or a community. One who is dependable and is the voice of reason. Male children tend to be named Jabali a lot.


5. Kumbatia (kuu-mba-tee-a) – ’embrace’

Holding someone close or embracing them is known as Kumbatia. This is applicable to embraces between lovers as well as platonic hugs. It is commonly used by the coastal people, who give embraces and kisses to family and friends.

6. Amani (aa-mah-nee) – ‘peace and tranquillity’

The Swahili word for peace is associated worldwide with calm and reason. Amani is not just about the absence of chaos. It refers to tranquillity, serenity, and peace of mind. It is used in the Kenya National Anthem. The word urges Kenyans to live in peace, unity, and freedom with one another.


7. Tembea (teh-mbe-a) – ‘travel’

Tembea means ‘to walk around’. When on a journey or away from home you are said to be on matembezi. This means ‘travels’.

8. Pwani (pwah-nee) – ‘beach’

This is the Swahili word for the beach. It is perfect for enquiring about the beautiful beaches when you travel to Kenya. You can use it in a sentence like this; when referring to the coast of Seychelles, you would say, “Pwani ya Ushelisheli.”

Which one was the most fascinating to you? Share with us in the comments.

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