The phrase "Black Panther" is the common phrasing of the title that is conferred upon the ruler of Wakanda, along with their position as a warrior and protector of their people. However, as far as I've seen in the MCU films and some assorted comics, I don't recall ever seeing this title and position described in anything other than English.

Presumably Wakandans do not universally use the English phrase "Black Panther", since they don't speak English all of the time, and the title seems to date back to before Wakanda was substantially influenced by the rest of the world.

So what is the Wakandan term? Is it literally just a word for "black" plus a word for a leopard or other big cat which has a melanistic variant? Or is it some other word or phrase? Answers from either the comics or MCU would be appreciated, or both if there's any distinction between them.

1 Answer 1



In Black Panther vol. 6, we learn that his people call him Damisa-Sarki, which stands for "the Panther" in Wakandan.

Source: his entry in Marvel Wikia

2018 Movie

The language spoken by Wakandans in the movie is real: it is Xhosa, also called isiXhosa, and it is one of the official languages of South Africa.

This langage is also supported by Google Translate. Ironically, if you try to translate Black Panther to Xhosa with Google Translate, you get... Black Panther. Maybe because of the historical Black Panther Party from the US. But word order in Xhosa is different from English - adjectives more commonly come after nouns. Typing "panther black" in Google Translate gives us:

kumnyama omnyama

You can follow the last link above to hear it being pronnounced.

This translates back to English as "dark black". Both words there mean gloom, dark or black. Panther, itself, seems to be i-Panther... So a probable more accurate translation could be:

i-Panther omnyama

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    Is this phrase used in the film or comics, though? Given the fictional history of Wakanda, and the recent introduction of Xhosa as part of the MCU canon, I wouldn't be surprised if there was some other term, invented or otherwise derived.
    – recognizer
    Jun 11, 2018 at 0:38
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    ooh interesting, that's the current Coates run, isn't it. So that being written is about contemporaneous with the development of the film.
    – recognizer
    Jun 11, 2018 at 0:55
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    I'd like to offer "ingwe emnyama"- black leopard, also courtesy of google translate Jun 11, 2018 at 1:32
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    The problem with translating is that "panther" isn't actually any specific animal. It's just any black variety of cat. "Black Panther" is tautologous by definition.
    – OrangeDog
    Jun 11, 2018 at 10:42
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    Panthers aren't necessarily black - Florida Panthers aren't, and there are also White Panthers.
    – Nolimon
    Jun 11, 2018 at 13:08

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