Common Shona Names
Here you will find common names of animals, birds, fish and reptiles in Shona language. The English-Shona page has a more comprehensive listing of names and includes names in different Shona dialects. Just like plants, some animals are only found in certain regions of Zimbabwe and names of those animals reflect the Shona dialects spoken in those regions. Click this Abbreviations link to view the meanings of abbreviations used.

  • puppy - mbwanana KMZ
  • domestic dog - imbwa KKoMZ
  • African wild dog - mhumhi KKoMZ
  • cow - mhou KZ; n'ombe hadzi M
    heifer - katsiru M; mhorombe KZ
  • calf - mhuru KKoMZ
  • oxen - ngavi KMZ; nzombe KMZ
  • bull - ngunzi; handira KMZ
  • cattle - n'ombe KKoMZ
  • donkey - dongi KMZ; mbongoro Ng
  • horse - bhiza KMZ
  • goat - mbudzi KMZ
  • sheep - gwayi K; hwai KMZ
  • domestic pig - nguruve KMZ; humba KoZ
  • bushpig - humba KoZ; ngurungunda KZ
  • warthog - njiri KMZ; hwami Z
  • bat - muremwaremwa KMZ
  • mouse - mbeva KMZ
  • domestic cat - kiti
  • wild cat - nhiriri KKoZ; bonga MZ
  • tortoise - kamba KKoMZ; hamba KMZ
  • porcupine - nungu KZ; ngwewewe M
  • skunk - chidembo KMZ
  • honey badger - mbeva KMZ
  • hare - shuro K; tsuro MZ
  • dassie - mbira KMZ; dzvito Z; tsvito M
  • rock hyrax - mbira KMZ; dzvito Z; tsvito M
  • bushbaby - chinhavira MZ; gwee K
  • squirrel - shindi K; tsindi MZ
  • monkey - shoko KKoMZ
  • baboon - gudo KKoMZ; bveni KoMZ
  • african civet - mbeva KMZ
  • aardvark - dikita K; chikokoma MZ; hwiribidi KoZ; hweru Z; dukuta Ko
  • anteater - haka KZ; harakabvuka M
  • aardwolf - mbizimumwena KZ; mwena KZ
  • aardwolf - mbizimumwena KZ; mwena KZ
  • black-backed jackal - hungubwe K; hunguhwe Z; manyene M
  • black-backed jackal - hungubwe K; hunguhwe Z; manyene M
  • impala - mhara KZ
  • spotted hyena - bere KZ; magondo KM; svitsi Ko
  • caracal - hwana K; twana MZ
  • serval cat - nzunza KZ; nzudzi M
  • cheetah - dindingwe KMZ
  • leopard - mbada KKOMZ; ingwe KoMZ
  • kudu - nhoro KMZ
  • kudu - nhoro KMZ
  • wilderbeest - mvumba KMZ
  • buffalo - nyati KMZ
    buffalo bull - rambwa Z
  • hippo - mvuu KKoMZ
  • rhino - chipembere KMZ
  • zebra - mbizi KMZ
  • giraffe - twiza KMZ
  • elephant - zhou K; nzou KoMZ; mhuvi Ko
  • male lion - shumba KKoMZ
  • lioness - shumba KKoMZ
  • animals - mhuka KKoMZ
  • baby chicken - hukwana KKoZ
  • fowl - huku KKoMZ
    hen - mhambo K; nhunzvi yehuku KZ; tseketse M
  • cock; rooster - jongwe KMZ
  • duck - dhadha KMZ
  • guineafowl - hanga KKoMZ
  • Cape glossy starling - hwidzikwidzi Z; husvu KZ
    long tailed starling - hwirikwiri Z
    red-winged starling - ngwitsvo Z; hosviro K; sviho M
    violet-backed starling - nyerure K
  • black crow - chikunguobaya KZ; mugohore M
  • pied crow - gunguo KKoZ; musavara M
  • korhaan - gaudya Z; guhwi K
    black-bellied korhaan - gubwi K; gunja M; renge Z
  • Melba finch - njekedya Z; zazo K
  • firefinch - tondondo K; kandirendire Z
  • kingfisher - kanyururahove KMZ; teveteve K
  • swallow - nyenganyenga KMZ
  • stork - shohwari K; dambiramurove K; shuramurove KoMZ
  • ostrich - mhou KZ; mhowani M
  • crowned crane - horiori Z; muhori M
  • secretarybird - hwata KMZ; mukwasi KM
  • augur buzzard - nyamudzura KZ
    lizard buzzard - chikondomatsvinyu Z; chikondomasvina Z
    steppe buzzard - chikondomatsvinyu Z
  • falcon kestrel - rukodzi KMZ
  • peregrine falcon - rukodzi KMZ
  • partridge - hwarikwari K; hwarikwari K; hwarikwara M; hwarekwere Z
  • dove - njiva KKoMZ
  • owl - zizi KKoMZ
  • eagle - gondo KMZ
    martial eagle - chinyamudzura KMZ
    fish eagle - hungwe KZ
  • valture - gora KMZ
  • millipeed - zongororo KZ
  • centipeed - mhani KZ; manimhani KZ; mhisa M
  • grub - gonye KKoMZ
  • bed bug - tsikidzi KMZ
  • flea - nhata KMZ
    poultry flea - takata M; uzanguku KZ
  • house fly - nhunzi KMZ
    horsefly - n'ono KMZ; gunura M
  • mosquito - umhutu KKoMZ; utunga KM
  • soldier termite - juru KMZ
    termites - majuru KMZ
    termites (edible flying termites) - ishwa MZ; shwarara K
  • termite mound - churu KKoMZ
  • bombardier beetle - dundira KZ; jorishori M
  • dung beetle; scarab - nyamututa MZ; chituta K; ngoko M; demhure Z
  • large, edible sand cricket - gurwe KMZ; gurene Ko
  • spider - buve KZ; buwe M
    trap-door spider - buwi M
  • locust - mhashu KMZ; hwiza Z; ndongwe M
  • grasshopper (gen. name) - mhashu K; ndongwe M; hwiza Z
    small, winged or wingless - chitota KMZ; bombo KoZ
    edible species of grasshopper - bambomukota KZ; gwiza M
  • mopane catapillar (edible) - tyonza KMZ
  • caterpillar (gen. name) - chikukwa KZ
  • buttefly - mbembenene K; fufura M; shaveshave Z
  • dragon fly - mukonikoni KMZ
  • praying mantis - mbuyambuya K; kachemberebande KZ; chiremba M
  • wasp - igo KoMZ; go K
    large black wasp(ground nesting) - ruma n'ombe KMZ
  • honey bee - nyuchi KKoMZ
  • bumblebee - dzingidzi KMZ
  • lizard - dzvinyu KKoMZ
  • agama - chidhambakura K; chiguyakuya MZ; chidambakura Z
  • monitor lizard - burwa KZ; mwauru M
  • chameleon - gwaivhi K; rwaivhi KMZ
  • snake - nyoka KKoMZ
  • snake - nyoka KKoMZ
  • black-mamba - rovambira KMZ
  • puff-adder - chiva KKoMZ
  • cobra - nyamafungu KMZ
  • python - shato KKoMZ
  • crocodile - garwe KMZ; ngwena KKoM; nyakoko Ko
  • frog - dafi KMZ; dacha K; chura KoZ
  • crab - gakanje KMZ
  • sardine, minnow - sinde KZ
  • fish - hove KKoMZ
  • bream - gwaya KZ
  • catfish - mhatye K; muhono M; muramba Z
Again, click this Abbreviations link to view the meanings of abbreviations used. The English-Shona page has a more comprehensive listing of names and includes names in different Shona dialects.

Submitting Shona Words
Help increase the Shona word list in the database for these Shona Language pages by submitting additional words I omitted and their meanings. Omissions may include instances where I did not cover all possible meanings of a word. In that case, treat the word as a new word and include all possible meanings for the word in question. Basic guide to submitting omitted words is on the Add Words page.

We need your feedback
This is an ongoing project and any suggestions you have to improve information offered here would be greatly appreciated. E-mail any comments or suggestions you have to Martin Shumba.

South Africans call them dassies, Cape hyraxes or rock rabbits. Dassie means badger in German as well as in Afrikaans, which gives reason to believe the early colonist mistook the Cape hyrax for a badger in the 17th century.

commonly called ant hills in Africa and Australia, and ant heaps in UK

Also called the African polecat, zoril, zorille, zorilla, Cape polecat, and African skunk.

honey badger (Mellivora capensis) or ratel in Afrikaans

African wild dog is also called African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, African painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf.

kestrel is a name given to several different members of the falcon genus

Sardines, or pilchards, are common names used to refer to various small, oily fish within the herring family of Clupeidae.