pl. -·be′le or -·be′les
a member of a Zulu people driven out of the Transvaal and into Rhodesia by the Boers in 1837
Origin of Matabele; from Zulu name, literally , vanishing (or hidden) people: from “hiding” behind large leather shields in battle
nounpl. Matabele or Ma·ta·be·les
Origin of MatabeleSotho Matebele, pl. of Letebele, member of the Zulu warrior contingents entering Sotho territory during upheavals in the 19th century : le-, sing. n. pref. + -tebele (perhaps from teba, to sink down (in reference to a Zulu battle technique in which warriors would sink down or crouch behind their distinctive large shields), or thebe, shield).