What does ‘Hakuna matata’ in The Lion King actually mean?

4 July 2022, 10:37

Hakuna matata
Hakuna matata. Picture: The Lion King

By Kyle Macdonald

We assembled a team of scholars, musicologists and Disney experts to break down the meaning of the famous song lyric used in ‘The Lion King’.

It means “no worries”.


OK, OK, *puts on serious linguistic hat*.

‘Hakuna matata’ is actually a phrase in the East African language of Swahili that literally means “no trouble” or “no problems”.

The music for the song was composed by Elton John with words penned by lyricist Tim Rice, who found the now-famous term in a Swahili phrasebook. It’s sung in the film by Timon and Pumbaa, the meerkat and warthog duo, and a young Simba.

Read more: Hans Zimmer on The Lion King – ‘The death of a father needs a serious requiem’

And because it’s 100% worthy of a big singalong at every available occasion, here’s the song in full. You’re welcome.

Hakuna Matata (From "The Lion King"/Audio Only)