ant-heap, noun

Origin:
English, South African DutchShow more English -heap, instead of the more common -hill, is probably the result of the influence of South African Dutch mierhoop ant-hill (mier ant + hoop heap).
1. An ant-hill constructed by ants or termites to house their colonies. Also figurative.
1835 T.H. Bowker Journal. 27 Mar.Made cartridges mended my gun again tried a shot or two at an Antheap.
1866 E.L. Price Jrnls (1956) 212He found the Matebele-refugees (women) making the floor of his fine new house — smearing it with [the] hard black earth of some antheap and then polishing it with smooth round stones in their own fashion.
1870 C. Hamilton Life & Sport in S.-E. Afr. 219In many parts of the colony so numerous are the ant-heaps that it is difficult to go many places without meeting them.
1878 T.J. Lucas Camp Life & Sport 103I have seen on the frontier a large ant-heap converted into a series of ovens by scraping out holes at different points at the sides; the ant-heap is then heated in the usual way.
1882 Lady F.C. Dixie In Land of Misfortune 34With a sudden floundering movement he toed the ground over a high ant-heap and came down with a heavy crash into a deep gully or pit.
1889 A Housewife of the Colony Col. Hsehold Guide 57Large ant-heaps are often scooped out in country parts, and make good ovens, a stone daubed around with earth, securing the door opening.
1899 B. Mitford Weird of Deadly Hollow 110Ant-heaps, stones, and that greatest peril of all — meercat-holes.
1910 A.B. Lamont Rural Reader 28Many of you have seen the holes in ant-heaps and on the road-sides where the ant-bear has been digging.
1925 L.D. Flemming Crop of Chaff 11Antheaps are more common than bushes in the Orange Free State.
1943 D. Reitz No Outspan 116One morning I watched a bull elephant..rubbing the under part of his neck against one of those tall antheaps that stand over ten feet high.
1950 D. Reed Somewhere S. of Suez 73We have received a position of equality and freedom, not only among the other States of the Empire but among the other nations of the world. Shall we now throw away all these advantages to get back to our old antheap?
1979 S.H. Skaife Afr. Insect Life 47The fortress homes of termites, the so-called ‘ant-heaps’, or termitaria, are a characteristic sight in Africa.
1987 [see meerkat].
2. noncount. The fine soil and other material from an ant-hill, pulverized and used to make floors, tennis-courts, and other hard ground surfaces. Also attributive. See also dagha noun, misvloer (see mis sense 3).
1880 [see dagha noun sense a].
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 31Ant-heap, The earth brought to the surface by the so-called white ants (Termites) is employed, under this designation, to floor rooms, tennis courts, etc. When properly prepared it gives a smooth, hard surface eminently suitable for such purposes.
1916 L.D. Flemming Fool on Veld (1933) 88Hadn’t we spread a quarter of an inch of antheap over these stubborn deposits, watered and rolled it, and pretended that it was as beautiful a pitch as could be found?
1936 P.M. Clark Autobiog. of Old Drifter 92I hired a hut constructed of dagga — that is, ant-heap mixed with cowdung.
1940 F.B. Young City of Gold 21None of these three noticed Janse standing framed in the doorway, or heard his step on the ant-heap floor when he entered.
1952 F.J. Edmonstone Where Mists Still Linger 11The womenfolk would thatch the hut with grass from the veld; then antheap, well watered and stamped down, was used for the floor.
1975 Levick & Mullins ‘Prep’ Story 23Two antheap tennis courts were made in the..garden.
1977 F.G. Butler Karoo Morning 67He surfaced it with ant-heap and old unbaked bricks, employing his children as draught animals to drag a six-foot section of railway line back and forth and to and fro, to level it.
An ant-hill constructed by ants or termites to house their colonies. Also figurative.
The fine soil and other material from an ant-hill, pulverized and used to make floors, tennis-courts, and other hard ground surfaces. Also attributive.

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18351979