Meaning of tsotsi in English:


Pronunciation /ˈtsɒtsi/

nounplural noun tsotsis

  • 1South African A young urban criminal, especially one from a township area.

    ‘He approached several black policemen (who were unarmed until the 1980s) who, when they spotted the tsotsis, starting running.’
    • ‘Some writers describe situations where paranoid fears of crime and violence are dissolved by friendly warmth and wry smiles of supposed tsotsis instead.’
    • ‘He remembers walking in downtown Joburg when, turning around, he noticed he was being followed by some tsotsis.’
    • ‘These aims were not realized: high unemployment persisted; urban gangs such as the tsotsis and the Russians, as well as delinquency, flourished.’
    • ‘Even the tsotsis, the unkempt street ruffians of the 1930s, began to embrace the quest for style in the 1950s.’
    1. 1.1 historical A young black gangster belonging to a group prominent in the 1940s and 1950s, affecting a special language and flashy dress.


1940s said to be a Sotho alteration of zoot suit.