ISILWANA? What is this and where did it come from?

Isilwana is the name of our house in the UK and has been for the past 20 years (or so). When we bought the house we had to find a name for the house because we are on a country road which has no house numbers. Sue picked up a book that my father was reading and there in the centre of the page was the word 'Isilwana' that seemed to just jump out. That was it we had the name of our house. We did not take a note of the book title so even after a lot of searching can't work out what the book was called.

The book implied that the meaning of the word was 'Lions Den' however after numerious searches I have not been able to verify this. My first thoughts were that it was a Zulu word but this seems not to be the case, it is more likely to be Ndebele. There is a railway siding in north west Zimbabwe called Isilwana Siding but the is no indication of a translation.

I did find a reference that it may have been translated as Insect (or something similar) and then later found a reference that stated  'Isilwana' means lioness. This was from a book called 'Howl of the Syracuse Wolf'. I have also found a reference in another book, 'The King's Assegai', where it is used as a persons name who was beaten to death.

Since starting this page I have done a bit more research and found that it is possible that it is also a Zulu word, I found the following "isilwana means ‘a small wild beast, a contemptible wild beast’ or ‘a small leopard’. Another reference in a book stated that it meand wild beast.

After all this I am no better off to its actual meaning so we just accept that it is a name that we chose for our house.


Hartley Heaton