DSAE test file

tsotsi, noun

Forms:
Also tsotsie.
Origin:
Show more Origin uncertain; widely believed to be a Sotho corruption of zoot suit, see quotations 1956, 1962, and 1980; but C.T. Msimang (1987, in S. Afr. Jrnl of Afr. Langs Vol.7 No.3, p.82) writes ‘The origin of the term tsotsi is not known...Although the term has a Sotho phonemic structure, it is not a Sotho lexical item’. See also quotations 1938.
1. a. in historical contexts. Especially during the 1940s and 1950s, a young black gangster or hoodlum who affected a particular style of language and flashy dress; pantsula sense 1 b. b. Loosely, a (young) black urban criminal. c. Used affectionately or contemptuously: a bad (young) man. Also attributive, and transferred sense. See also boy sense 2 a, location boy (location sense 3 c). Cf. amalaita, clever, comtsotsi, ducktail, sheila sense 2, skolly, spoiler.
[1938 Star 1 June 16Alleged to be members of the ‘Ishotsi’ gang, with aims of robbing and murdering natives.]
1993 [see lost generation].
2. combination
tsotsi-taal /-tɑːl/, also with initial capital [Afrikaans taal language], flaaitaal. Also attributive.
Note:
The name ‘tsotsi-taal’ is seen as derogatory by some, the terms flaaitaal or isicamtho being preferred. Tsotsi-taal originated in the townships around Johannesburg, becoming particularly well-established in the 1950s. Spoken at first mainly by criminals, partly as a means of avoiding being understood by others within earshot, it has since come to be used more widely, especially by young people, among whom it has more recently come to be called ‘isicamtho’ or ‘scamtho’.
[1951 Drum Nov. 10To speak broken Afrikaans is one of the methods by which tsotsis identify each other, but each group has its own common vocabulary in the presence of strangers.]
1994 H. Masekela on TV1, 16 Nov. (People of South)I have been thinking of making an album in tsotsi-taal and calling it ‘Heita-daar’.
Especially during the 1940s and 1950s, a young black gangster or hoodlum who affected a particular style of language and flashy dress; pantsula1 b.
Loosely, a (young) black urban criminal.
Used affectionately or contemptuously: a bad (young) man. Also attributive, and transferred sense.
, the tsotsi lifestyle and behaviour.
Derivatives:
Hence tsotsi-ism (also tsotsism) noun, the tsotsi lifestyle and behaviour.
1952 T. Matshikiza in Drum Apr. 15A more ruthless condemnation of the menace of Tsotsi-ism.
1980 D.B. Coplan Urbanization of African Performing Arts. 357Their targets were the location police.., tsotsism.., and physical conditions in the African areas.

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary

Senses

19381994

Compounds & Derivatives