Dictionary of Literary Swahili

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This dictionary is the result of over forty years of research and the collection of vocabularies from Swahili texts, poetry, prose and proverbs.


“The present dictionary is unique in the sense that it is not based on an earlier dictionary. Most other Swahili dictionaries take existing dictionaries as their starting point; the authors of this dictionary collected words from literature and through interviews with informants. The present dictionary is also unique because it is clearly focused on literary Swahili. To the best of my knowledge such a dictionary does not exist.” – Dr. Maarten Mous, Leiden University

“. . . a great enhancement to the field of Swahili language, literature and linguistics.” – Prof. Lioba Moshi, University of Georgia

“. . . this dictionary is a very serious piece of work which should be considered a most useful tool for students and scholars alike.” – Prof. G. Philippson, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales

"DLS is a very valuable addition to Swahili language, literature, and linguistics. It reinforces a growing body of research that seeks to transcend those curricular boundaries that delimit Swahili studies to the standardization process and developments thereafter. DLS boldly acknowledges the ingenuity and agency of nonstandard varieties in shaping the growth of Swahili language and literature. In so doing,Knappert and Van Kessel make an essential part of Swahili’s literary history accessible to a much broader audience." -Mungai Mutonya

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. Maarten Mous
Inclusion of entries and their shape
The use of hyphens
Phonetic symbols
Basic rules for looking up words
Abbreviations and symbols used in this dictionary
Additional organisational conventions
Notes to the abbreviations
Dictionary Swahili-English

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