Chichewa Etymology

Etymologies are not
definitions; and on this page they are
explanations that some or most of Chewa
(Chichewa) words have been derived from English words, and how with time pronounciation has much changed their sound that they are now accepted as our own local language.

Anyezi – Onions
Ayise – I Say
Boma – (stands for) British Overseas Military Attaché (B.O.M.A)
Bowa (Wandibowa)- Bore
Bowola – Bore (Drill, Make a Hole)
Bulangete – Blanket
Bulutu – Brute
Bwato – Boat
Chepa – Cheap
Cheza – Cheers
Chibekete – Bucket
Chi-doli (le) – Doll
Chila – Cheer
Chitini – Tin
Dibwa – Edible
Doko – Dock (Port)
Dula (Chodula)- Durable
Foloko – Folk
Fotseki – Forsake
Galimoto (Gali-Moto) – Car – Motor (Motor-Car)
Gasa (Wagasa)- Gas (has taken gas → nothing)
Gona – Gone
Gontha – Gone-Damn
Gwada – Go-Down
Gwafa – Guava
Hule – Whore
Idya – Eat-your
Imva – Hear That
Jiti – Jetty
Kabati – Cupboard
Kata (mvula ya kata) – Cut (stopped)
Khola – Kraal
Khuki – Cook
Koka – Conquer (as in Tag of War)
Kuwa – Call Out
Kwawa – Cower
Kwiya – Queer (differing from the normal or usual in a way regarded as old or strange)
Lagwani – Long one
Londa (Mlonda)- Rounder
Lota – Lottery
Lulutira – Ululate
Lusa (Wolusa) – Loose (i.e he is loose, he doesn’t hold his temper)
Makina – Machine
Malayina – Gmelina

Manja – Manual (Manual-Job)
Matako – Buttock
Mayi (Amayi) – My
Mbatata – Potato
Mboni (Kaboni)- Carbon Paper (used as witness)
Mbuli (M-bul-i)- Bull
Mdima (Mu-dim-a)- Dim (Dark)
Mkamwini – Come-In
Mowa – More-Wine
Munda – Mound (Ridge)
Nkhuku – Cock
Nsalu (Salu) – Sail (sheet of fabric spread to catch the wind to propel a vessel or a windmill)
Nyasa, Nyasi – Nuisance
Pakira – Pack
Papaya – Pawpaw
Pelete – Parade
Penya – Open Eye (‘pen’ye)
Phada – Pad (disc that is thrown during Phada game)
Phazi – Paws (Foot)
Phiniforo – Pin fore
Phiri – Uphill (‘phill)
Phoda – Powder
Pikula – Pick
Pinda – Pin-Down
Pitsa – Pierce (Penetrate)
Ponda – Pound (Crush)
Ponya, Phonya- Up On Air (‘pon-air), (Open Air)
Poto – Pot
Pulula – Pullulate
Pusi – Pussy (Cat)
Sefa – Sieve
Sitima (Train) – Steam, Steamer (trains had Steam engines)
Telala – Tailor
Thabwa – Table
Theba (Kutheba)- (stands for) The Employees Bureau Association
Tsila (Tsilika) – Seal
Ulusi (Wulusi) – Wool (Wools)
Wamtali (Wam-Tal-i)- Tall
Wayilesi – Wireless
Wenela (a place in Bt and Mzi)- (stands for) Witwatersrand Native Labour association
Weta – Waiter (Attendant)
Wuka – Wake-Up, Wake’p
Yesu – Jesus (Jesu-)
Zedi – Z (as last letter means all effort applied or maximum reached) means

(: means, meaning, dictionary, chewa, chichewa, translation)>

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