Native toKenya
RegionMeru County and Tharaka Nithi County
Native speakers
2.0 million (2019 census)[1]
  • Igembe
  • Igoji
  • Imenti
  • Miutini
  • Nuclear Meru
  • Tigania
  • Tharaka
  • Chuka
  • Mwimbi-Muthambi
Language codes
ISO 639-3
mer – Meru
Glottologmeru1245  Meru

Meru is a Bantu language spoken by the Meru people (Ameru) who live on the Eastern and Northern slopes of Mount Kenya and on the Nyambene ranges. They settled in this area after centuries of migration from the north.

The Meru people are a fairly homogeneous community and all share a common ancestry. They speak the same language, Kimeru, but there are some slight regional differences, in accent and local words. The community comprises the following subdivisions, from the north to south:

As the Meru language is similar to its surrounding neighbors, the Kikuyu and Embu could have possibly adopted parts of Meru.

Sample phrases

English Kimeru
How are you Muuga
Give me water Mpa rũũji/rũi
How are you doing? Ũrĩ o mwega?
I am hungry Ndĩna mpara
Help me Nteithia/Ntethia
I am good Ndĩ mwega
Are you a friend? Wĩ mũcore?
Bye, be blessed Tigwa bwega, tharimwa.
I love you Ikwendete.
Come here Ĩja aja/ Iyu aa
I will phone you Ngakũringira thimũ

I want a cassava||Ndũmia mũkwanga/mĩkwanga


Kimeru has seven main mutually intelligible dialects. The dialects include kiimenti widely used by the Imenti section of the Ameru, Tiania/gitiania used by the tigania, kiigembe used by the Igembe, kimwimbi and Muthambi used by the Igoji and Chogoria, Gicuka used by the Chuka and Kitharaka used by the Tharaka.

Imenti dialect

It is the commonly used dialect in Meru. The dialect acts as the lingua franca between all the nine subtribes of Meru. It is the official dialect used in the Kimeru Bible translations. It is commonly used in Nkubu, Timau, Kibirichia, Meru town and Ruiri areas of Meru County.

Sample phrases

English Imenti
How are you Nĩatĩa ũrĩ? Muuga?
Give me water Mpa rũũji
Home Nja/Mũciĩ
Get out Uma njaa/ome
Get Inside Kũrũka/Tonya
Today Naarua
Tomorrow Rũjo
Come here Ĩja aja
I will phone you Ngakũringira thimũ

The Chuka, Muthambi and Mwimbi dialects

Chuka dialect
  • Chuka dialect
Language codes
ISO 639-3cuh
Glottologchuk1274  Chuka
Muthambi dialect
  • Muthambi dialect
Language codes
ISO 639-3mws
Glottologmuth1242  Muthambi
Mwimbi dialect
  • Mwimbi dialect
Language codes
ISO 639-3mws
Glottologmwim1242  Mwimbi

The dialects are more related to Gikuyu and Meru proper, and are common in Igoji, Chogoria and Chuka regions of Meru County and Tharaka Nithi County.

Sample phrases

English Chuka/Muthambi/Mwimbi
How are you Muuga
Give me water Mpa maaĩ/rũnjĩ
Home Mũcii
Get out Uma nja
Get Inside Kũrũka/Tonya/Thungira
Today Ũmũnthi
Tomorrow Rũjũ/Rũũ
Come here Ũka aja
I will phone you Ngakũringira/Ngakubũrira thimũ

Tigania and Igembe dialects

Tigania dialect
  • Tigania dialect
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottologtiga1244  Tigania
Igembe dialect
  • Igembe dialect
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottologigem1238  Igembe

The dialects are mostly spoken in Miraa or Khat growing areas of Muthara, Karama, Kangeta, Maua, Laare and Mutuati in Meru County.

Sample phrases

English TIgania/Igembe
How are you Muua
Give me water Nthaania/mpa Rũĩ
Home Mucie/Mucii
Get out Tũra
Get Inside Unkuma
Today Ruarii
Tomorrow Rũũ/Rũyũ
Come here Ĩya haa/iyu haa
I will phone you Ngakũringira thimũ

Tharaka dialect

Tharaka dialect
  • Tharaka dialect
Language codes
ISO 639-3thk
Glottologthar1283  Tharaka

The dialect is more closely related to the Kamba and Tigania dialects. It is most common in Tharaka areas of Tharaka Nithi County.

Sample phrases

English Tharaka
How are you Muuga
Give me water Mpa rũũyĩ
Home Mũciĩ
Get out Uma nja
Get Inside Thũngĩra
Today Ĩmunthĩ
Tomorrow Rũũ
Come here Ncũ aga
I will phone you Ngakũringĩra thimũ


Kimeru is written in a Latin alphabet. It does not use the letters f p q s v x z, and adds the letters ĩ and ũ.[3] The Kimeru alphabet is:

Majuscule forms (also called uppercase or capital letters)
Minuscule forms (also called lowercase or small letters)
a b c d e g h i ĩ j k m n o r t u ũ w y

In Media and Popular Culture

A Kenyan musical group known as High Pitch Band Afrika based in Meru County has done a cover of the Luis Fonsi's popular hit single Despacito in Kimeru language. The Kimeru cover was uploaded on YouTube on July 10, 2017, and has generated over 500,000 views since then.

In Media the Kimeru language is used as the primary broadcast language of several Radio and TV stations in Kenya. Some include: Meru Fm, Muuga Fm, Weru Fm, Weru TV, Baite TV, Thiiri Fm among many others.


  1. ^ Meru at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. ^ "5 Steps to get you Writing Kimeru like a Njuri Ncheke Editor - The Ameru". The Ameru. 2017-11-08. Retrieved 2018-04-30.