This is the first of a series of imibhudulo on the words for izitho zomzimba (see this post for the full list). If you don’t know what an umbhudulo is, you can either look it up in a dictionary or you can look here.

umzimba, a noun from the static or elemental noun class, is the general term for the body (whether human or otherwise). If you look it up in Vilakazi and Doke (1958) there is an isaga (a proverb) to go with the word: umzimba uzwiwa umniniyo – the body is known by its owner (i.e. each one knows his or her own feelings).

umzimba also means a person’s build or bodily appearance, as well as someone’s skin-texture.

If you trace it into the essence noun class, ubuzimba means ‘normal, healthy physical condition’. It also, curiously, is a synonym for ‘inqina’ – a hunting party.

And finally, in the homogenous fluid noun class, i(li)zimba denotes an ear of corn. It is also the hlonipha term for the whole plant of maize, sorghum, umoba etc.

There’s not much more than this – just three small inflections of a single isiqu. So this is not really an umbhudulo – it’s more of an umbhudulwana.