Friday, January 18, 2013

Zimbabwean Shona Names

Harare - also known as "Sunshine City"

These are some of the most common names in the native Shona language of Zimbabwe,spoken by over 80% of the population.I wrote these names from my head because I know friends and people with such names.I can speak and write the common Karanga Shona version fairly well,although deep Shona can be a challenge.Shona has five dialects (Karanga,Zezuru,Manyika,Ndau and Kore Kore).
>> Scroll Down To The List of Names

Learning Shona

Shona is one of the easiest African languages to learn and pronounce if you are a beginner. How quickly you learn a new language depends on various factors, but the most important are the ease of pronunciation, number of words required per description, the relationship and resemblance of the language to languages that you can speak fluently. Of course, you also need dedication and effective tools to help you learn faster. Another way of learning a new language quickly is inter-cultural social interaction with people of different languages who also share a common language like English to help with interpretation.


If you can pronounce Spanish, Japanese and Italian words, then you will find it easy to pronounce Shona words because the languages have similar vowel pronounciations.Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn in the world.

Number of Words per Description

A language with multiple words per description is hard to learn and pronounce because you have to figure out how to pronounce multiple words in a row.Shona is a language with fewer words per description, therefore it is much easier to learn, for example, look at the following words:

Ndichamboenda – a single word that means “I am now going”
Ndichambodya – a single word meaning “I am eating”
Mamukasei – a single word that means “Good morning”   You start with Ma when you are greeting an elder,senior or older person to show respect.
Wamukasei – a single word that means “Good morning” You start with Wa when you are greeting a young person, friend, sibling or someone at your level.
Masvera sei? – How was your day? Once again Ma is used to show respect to an elder or senior.
Wasvera sei? - How was your day? Once again Wa is used when greeting a younger person, friend, sibling or someone at your level.
Wakanaka - a single word meaning You are beautiful
Akanaka - a single word meaning She is beautiful
ndinofara - a single word meaning I am happy
Zvakanaka - a single word meaning It is good or It's fine 
Zvinonaka - a single word meaning It's sweet

Interesting Sounds

Shona has some interesting sounds which might be hard to pronounce for somebody who did not grow up in the social setting. These include whistled sounds, deep clapping sounds,click sounds and snapping sounds among others.

Whistled Sounds

The Shona language has about nine sounds that are more or less whistled for the lack of a better term. Here are some of the words with whistled sounds:

Zvishavane – (name of a small town in Zimbabwe) – Zvi is the whistled sound
Zvanyanya – (it’s too much) – Zva is the whistled sound
Nzeve – (an ear) – Nze is the whistled sound
Tsvaga mari yangu – (Find my money) Tsva is the whistled sound
Wadzva – (You failed, you learnt a lesson) – Dzva is the whistled sound
Dzidzai – (Learn, Get educated) – Dzi is the whistled sound
Masvingo – (name of a town in Zimbabwe) – Svi is the whistled sound

Deep Clickish Sounds

These are like click sounds requiring movement of tounge tip towards the roof of the mouth.These start with D followed by a vowel:

Davira – (Respond)– Da is the clickish sound
Unodada – (You are arrogant) – Da is the clickish sound
Doro – (Beer) – Do is the clickish sound
Dambudziko – (Problem) – Da is the clickish sound
Dovi – (peanut butter) – Do is the clickish sound

Deep Clap Sounds

The sounds are almost like the Traditional Shona deep hand clapping.These start with B followed by a vowel:

Baba – (dad, father, family man) – Ba is the deep clap
Buda - (go out) - Bu is the clap and Da is the click
Budiriro - (name of a township in Harare) - Bu is the clap and Di is the click
Badza - (hoe) - Ba is a deep clap
Bika - (cook) - Bi is the deep clap

Lower Lip Biting Sounds

You have to grasp your lower lip when pronouncing these sounds.

Zvinovava – (bitter tasting) – Va is the  lip sound
Vaviri – (two of them - referring to people) – Va and Vi are lip sounds
Vana - (children) - Va is the lip sound
Vauya - (He or She has come) - Va is the lip sound. You start with Va when you are referring to an elder, senior, older person or honourable person e.g. a Chief or someone occupying a high position in society.If you are referring to an ordinary person, friend, younger person or sibling, you simply say Auya.
Ndinoziva - (I know) - Va is the lip sound

Snap/Breaking Sounds

The sound is almost similar to the snap of a twig, tree branch or dry wood.They start with Ty followed by a vowel:

Unotyei - (what are you afraid of?) - Tye is the snap sound
Kutyoka - (break like a twig or plank) - Tyo is the snap sound
Unoda Kutyiwa - (you want to be feared) - Tyi is the snap sound


Dovi – (peanut butter) – Do and Vi are deep sounds

For those who want to learn Shona, I found the following helpful video lessons on YouTube:


>> Go Back To Top

List of Male & Female Shona Names and their Meaning in Random Order:

Notes***English translation in brackets

Tinashe (God with us) male name
Anesu (He is with us - referring to God) male name
Nyasha (Grace) male
Tawanda (We are many) male
Tariro (Hope / looking forward to the future) male
Tamuka (We are awake/We have risen) male
Tonderai (Remember) male
Taurai (Talk) male
Tanaka (we are good,nice,pleasant) male+female
Tashinga (we are brave) male
Tongai (Rule) male
Takunda (we conquered) male
Tauya ( we have come) male
Farai (Be happy) male
Tofara (we are happy) male
Kudakwashe (will of God) male
Kudzai (respect) female
Kudzanai (respect each other) female
Rukudzo (respect) female
Tinotenda ( We are thankful) male
Tendai  (Thank you) male
Chipo (Gift) female name
Gamuchirai (To accept a gift with your hands ) female
Yeukai ( We Remember) female name
Vimbai (Abide with) female name
Vimbainashe (Abide with God) female name
Fungai (think) female name
Fungisai (think well) female
Garai (Stay) Male name
Garikai (have a good life) male
Mufaro (happiness) male
Farisai (be very happy) female
Tsvakai (Look for) female name
Tsitsi (Mercy) female name
Rudo (Love) female
Takura (We are grown up) male
Wonai (See) female+male
Zivanai (Get to know each other) male name
Zivai (Know) male
Shamiso (A great wonder / wonderful) female name
Zvikomborero (blessings) female
Shingirai (be brave) male
Shingai (be brave) male
Simbarashe (God’s power) male
Simba (power) male
Rindai (keep watch,take care of) female
Rufaro (joy) male+female
Anokosha (she is precious) female
Aneni (she is with me) female
Anodiwa (beloved) female
Anotida (she loves us) female
Anoona (she sees) female
Batsirai (help) female
Revesai (we mean it) female
Chenai (be pure/clean/smart) female
Chenesai (make pure/clean) female
Chengetai ( keep) female
Chiedza (light/dawn) female
Chido (loved one) female
Chiratidzo (vision) female
Chishamiso (miracle/wonder) female
Chipiwo (gift) female
Chiwoniso (vision) female
Dadisai (be proud) female
Dadirai (show off) female
Danai (call) female
Edzai (try) female+male
Fadzai (make happy) female
Farirai (like,interested in) female
Fudzayi (lead) female
Haruperi (it doesn’t end) female
Hazvinei (it doesn’t matter) female
Itai (do) male + female
Idai (like/want) female
Ipaishe (give to God) female
Kunashe (God is there) female
Kundai (overcome) female
Kundiso (victory) female
Maidei (what you want) female
Maitaishe (thank you God) female
Makanaka (good) female
Mandida (you love me) female
Manyika ()male+female
Matida (you have loved us) female
Matipa (you have given us) female
Mawanda (you are many) female
Mazvita (thank you
Muchafara (you shall be happy) female+male
Muchaneta (you shall be tired) female+male
Mudiwa (loved one) female
Mukai (arise) female
Mukudzei (praise God) female
Munashe (God with us) female+male
Mutsa (mercy) female
Mutsawashe (God’s mercy) female
Nakai (be good/nice) female
Netsai (troublesome) female
Natsai (make holy/good) female
Nhamo (problems,trials) male + female
Ndafadzwa (I am happy) female
Ndanatsei (am I good?) female
Ngonidzashe (God’s mercy) male+female
Nyengeterai (persuade) female
Nyaradzai (console) female
Nyarai (respect) female
Nyararai (be quiet) female
Nyaradzai (console) female
Nyaradzo (consolation) female
Nyika (country) male
Nyemwererai (smile) female
Onai (see) male + female
Paidamoyo (where the heart wants/is) female
Pamhidzai (repeat) female
Panashe (where there is God) female
Pepukai (wake up) female
Pikirayi (swear/promise) male
Ratidzai (show someone) female
Ratidzo (instruction/demonstration) female
Ropafadzo (blessed) female
Rudairo (a call) female
Rudaviro (a call,calling) female
Rudorwashe (God’s love) female
Rujeko (brilliance/light) female
Rukudzo (respect,honor) female
Rumbidzai (worship) female
Rungano (story,fable,fairytale,legend) female + male
Runyararo (peace) female
Ruponeso (salvation) female
Ruramisai (make holy/right) female
Rutendo (thanksgiving) female
Ruvarashe (God’s flower) female
Ruvimbo (faith) female
Ruwadzano (togetherness) female
Sarudzai (choose) female
Sekai (laugh) female
Shorai (blame) female
Simukai (stand up) female
Tadisa (we have loved) female
Tadiwa (we are loved) female
Tadiwanashe (God loves us) female+male
Tafadzwa (we are happy) female
Takaedza (we tried) male+female
Tambudzai (give trouble) female
Tamirira (we are waiting for) female
Tamupiwa (she was given to us) female
Tanatsa (do good) female
Tanatswa (we are purified) female
Tanyaradzwa (we have been consoled) female
Tapedza (we have finished)
Tarusikirwa () male
Tapiwa (given) female+male
Tapiwanashe (given by God) female
Tapuwa (given) female
Tarirai (look at) female+male
Tawana (we have found) female+male
Tichaona (we will see) female+male
Tinatsei (make us pure) female
Tinavo (we are with them) female+male
Tinaye (we are with God) female+male
Tinevimbo (we have faith) female
Tatenda (thank you) female
Ropafadzo (blessing) female
Taropafadzwa (we are blessed) female+male
Timukudzei (praise Him – God) female
Tinotenda (thank you) female+male
Tinozivaishe (we know God) female+male
Todii (what shall we do?) male
Toitasei (what shall we do?) male
Tumai (send) male
Tinoda (we want) male
Tsungirirai (perseverance) male+female
Upenyu (life) male
Varaidzo (care/leisure/relaxation/hobby) female
Chivaraidzo (something that gives you relaxation) female
Vhenekerayi (shine,illuminate) female
Vimbiso (promise) female
Vongai (cherish) female
Wadzanai (be united,live together in harmony) female
Watinoda (the one we love) female
Yananiso (togetherness) female
Yemurai (emulate/admire) female
Zvanyadza (this is shameful,this is a disgrace) female
Zviedzo (trials,temptations) female
Zvikomborero (blessings) female
Zvinodaishe (what God wants) female+male
Mutsawashe (Kindness of God or The Lord is Kind) Female
Chido (Something You Love) Female
Tsitsi (Mercy, Feel Pity For) Female
Mufaro (Joy) Female
Fadzai (Make Happy) Female
Rujeko (Light) Female
Isheanopa (God Gives) Female
Netsayi ( Give Trouble) Female
Ruvimbo (Depend on) Female
Rufaro (Happiness) Female
Tafara (We Are Happy) Female+Male
Ratidzai (Show) Female
Rungano (A Folktale or Short Story) Female
Mutsa (Kindness) Female
Ropafadzo (Blessed) Female
Chenai (Be Clean/Smart) Female
Dadirai (Be Arrogant) Female
Vongai () Female
Paida (Need, What Was Needed or Wanted) Female
Wadzanai () Female
Dzidzai (Learn, Get Educated) Male
Tawedzerwa (Increased) Male
Tawedzegwa (Increased) Male
Tungamirai (Lead) Male
Haruperirufu (Death doesn’t end) Female (short name is simply Haruperi or Haru)
Hupenyu (Life) Male
Tinotenda (We are thankful) Male
Munashe (You have God) Male
Takomborerwa (We are blessed) Male
Paidashe (What the Lord Wanted) Female
Tafadzwa (Pleased) Unisex
Rukomborero () Female
Ruwarashe (Flower of God) Female (short name is simply Ruwa)
Ruvarashe (Flower of God) Female (short name is simply Ruva)
Ruwananidzo () Female
Taropafadzwa (We are sanctified) Male
Ropafadzo (Sanctification) Female
Tsungayi () Female
Tsungirirayi () Male
Tsungano () Male
Zvikomborero (Blessings) Female
Munyaradzi (The one who consoles) Male
Chamunorwa (What you are fighting for) Male
Tambudzai (Give trouble) Female
Takudzwa (We are honoured) Female
Saruzdai (Choose) Female
Tanyaradzwa (We are consoled) Female
Tanatsiwa (Made Righteous) Female
Tanatswa (Made Righteous) Female
Zvipozvashe (Gifts of the Lord) Female
Tinomudaishe (We love the Lord) Unisex (short name is simply Tinomuda or Tino)
Ruwadzano () Female
Zorodzai (Give rest) Unisex
Chenjerai (Take care, be clever) Male
Ngonidzashe (Mercy of the Lord) Male (short name is simply Ngoni)
Masimba (Power) Male
Dambudzo (Trouble) Unisex
Ruramayi (Good, Righteous) Female
Timukudze (Praise Him – referring to God) - Unisex
Makomborero (Blessings) Unisex
Rangarirai (Recall) Female
Chipiwo (Gift) Female
Nyarai (Respect) Female
Rukudzo (Respect, Honour) Female
Mutsawashe (Mercy of the Lord) Unisex (short name is simply Mutsa)
Njodzi (Tragedy) Male
Tarusikirwa (Created for) Male (short name is Taru)
Taruwona (We saw it) Male
Harutizvirufu – (You cannot run away from death) Unisex (short name is Harutizvi or Haru)
Nyamunda () Male
Tawona (We have seen) Unisex
Tashaya (We haven't found, we didn’t receive) Unisex
Nyika (The Nation, Country) Male
Tichaona (We will see) Male
Tongoona (We will see) Male
Shumirai () Unisex
Shuvai () Female
Hamandishe (The Lord is our Relative) Male
Chemedzai (Make them cry) Female
Chichemedzo () Female
Dzikamai (Behave) Male
Nyangirai (Corner – verb) Unisex
Tinaye (We have Himreferring to God) Male
Ruveneko (Light, Light up the darkness) Female

Venekerai (Give Light) Female

Shona Handclapping Game:


There are hundreds of other Shona names.If you know of any Shona name which has been omitted from the list,Please add it in the Comments Section below:

You might want to read about Zimbabwean Ndebele Names

Download Free Shona Audio Lessons From Live Lingua Project


  1. is a web portal where you can find many worlds of baby names with meaning and origin. It helps you in choosing a baby name for your baby; you can also make a list of your favorite baby names. You will get the variety of names in babynology such as unusual baby names, cute baby names, uncommon baby names etc.

  2. Thanks a bunch. I'm trying to write a character who is a Shona girl and needed some real names to reference.

    1. I visited the site for the same reason lol

  3. Do you know the meaning of Sangoya, female Shona name? It would mean a lot to me.

    1. Doesn't sound like a Shona word. I've never heard of it. Sango means forest though. but it's not a name.

  4. I wanna know what Ronenyeni means or any other female name in close proximity with either spelling or pronunciation ....thanks for considering to help>>>>>>

  5. Can Akanaka be a name? i haven't heard of anyone with that Shona name. Can it be a proper good name.

  6. Can I use Maita as a middle name for my baby boy? I think it means thank you god

  7. A name is better as Mazvita but means the same as Maita. It's a beautiful name.

  8. My name is Neasha, I think it may be a form of the name Nyasha but I'm not sure. My Afro-American teacher did say it meant freedom though. What do you guys think?

  9. My name is Neasha I think it may be a form of the Shona name Nyasha. But I am not sure what do you guys think?

  10. Thank you so much! These names are beautiful! Hello from a Nigerian in America

  11. Can anyone tell me what the common use for "Rombe" is? I've read it defined as a drifter or vagrant, but also have seen that it can be used to call someone an idiot. I am trying to figure out a good Shona name for a dog, and wouldn't want to name him idiot.

    1. @Beau,"rombe" is as you said a drifter or vagrant, it can also mean a homeless,jobless or poor person. The word is derogatory, not advisable to give it to anybody or pet. Shumba, Manyika, Shasha, Kwese, Fambai are some of the good names for a pet.Shumba = Lion, Shasha = Champion, Kwese = Everywhere, Fambai = Walk


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