Son·​ghai | \ säŋˈgī \
variants: or less commonly Songhoi or Songoi \ -​ˈgȯi \ or Songhay \ -​ˈgī \
plural Songhai or Songhais

Definition of Songhai

1a : a Sudanese people living below Timbuktu in the bend of the Niger that are mostly Muslim
b : a member of such people
2 : the language of the Songhai people used widely as a language of commerce throughout the middle Niger valley
3 : a language family consisting only of Songhai and a few closely related languages or dialects (such as perhaps Dyerma)

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Learn More about Songhai

Statistics for Songhai

Cite this Entry

“Songhai.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

Comments on Songhai

What made you want to look up Songhai? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!