Nyama choma, sambaza, collabo added to Oxford dictionary


Revellers enjoy nyama choma at Express Inn Chomazone in Nyeri town. The delicacy is among the most popular during a festive season.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has added a mixture of Swahili words to its dictionary.

The words include nyama choma, asante sana, collabo, come-we-stay, jembe, pressed, sambaza, sheng, tarmac and unprocedural.

The words were included in June 2022 as both adjectives and verbs.

The OED coverage of East African English includes the varieties of English spoken in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, three countries which share a common Anglophone background despite their different colonial histories, the publisher said.

As of June 2022, the OED had added more than 700 new words, senses, and sub-entries including words like ankle-biter, sharenting, Mozart and Liszt.

The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.

As a historical dictionary, the OED is very different from dictionaries of current English, in which the focus is on present-day meanings.

One can still find present-day meanings in the OED, but also find the history of individual words, and of the language—traced through three million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books.

Below are some of the East African English words recently recorded in the OED and their meanings:

Asante sana: Used to express gratitude: “thank you very much”.

Collabo: Esp. of musicians: to collaborate; to work together with another or others, or on a project.

Jembe: A hand tool shaped like a hoe, with a blade set at an (acute) angle to the handle, used for digging, breaking up soil, removing weeds, etc.

Nyama Choma: roasted or grilled meat.

Pressed: That has been subjected to pressure; compacted, flattened.

Sambaza:  To send (mobile phone credit) to someone. Hence more generally: to share or send (something).

Sheng: A street language blending Swahili with lexical and grammatical elements from English and other languages, originating as part of the youth subculture of Nairobi but now also used by people of varying ages and social classes in urban communities across Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Tarmac: To cover with tar macadam.

Unprocedural:  That does not follow ordinary or official procedure; irregular, illegal.


You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.