bobbejaan, noun

Also bobijan.
bobbejane /ˌbɔbəˈjɑːnə/.
Afrikaans, Middle Dutch, DutchShow more Afrikaans, from Middle Dutch babiaen (Dutch baviaan) baboon.
a. The chacma, Papio ursinus.
1959 J. Packer High Roof 106On their last afternoon the Coloured caddy said: ‘Listen to the bobbejaan — up there in the krans.’ He looked..seeing the old sentinel of the baboon troop.
1965 J. Bennett Hawk Alone 42‘Come up and have a go at the bobbejane,’ said Gord.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 130Each animal..ranked high in their..tribal taboos, and no Hottentot would eat the meat of any of them. The ‘bobbejaan’, they held, was too much like a man.
[1986 M. Le Chat in Sunday Times 20 July (Mag. Sect.) 32It’s a song called Bobbejaan, Bobbejaan, a tale of weekends in Worcester when he would be taken up to the hill above the town to see a baboon on a chain.]
b. figurative. derogatory. Usually with initial capital: A nickname for one held to be a fool. See also baviaan sense 1 b.
In certain contexts used with racist overtones.
1937 C.R. Prance Tante Rebella’s Saga 177On the spot of course Oom Jan was unanimously and uproariously crowned with the nickname ‘Bobbejaan’ which means ‘Baboon,’ and the shame of it so ate into his soul that he sold his farm and trekked away to far south-west Africa.
1942 S. Cloete Hill of Doves 239And what are you, Adonis? Ja, that’s what you are, an old bobbejaan of a man, an old baboon..a disgrace to your nation.
c1957 D. Swanson Highveld, Lowveld & Jungle 64‘The little bliksom,’ Klaussens said, staring down at the crumpled, inert body...‘Go and get that other bobijan.’
1965 C. Van Heyningen Orange Days 36One day a small skinny piccanin turned up to look for work; when asked what his name was, he said ‘Maargat’, but he was renamed ‘Bobbejaan’ (monkey) to which he answered cheerfully.
1971 Sunday Times 10 Oct. (Mag. Sect.) 5Addressing an African bringing tea into the studio, he said: ‘What is your name? Bobbejaan? Oh, Willem. Willem Bobbejaan.’
2. As a qualifier, especially in plant names, often designating species unsuitable for human consumption, or associated with baboons:
bobbejaanappel /-apəl/ [Afrikaans, appel apple], kershout sense 2;
bobbejaankos /-kɔs/ [Afrikaans, kos food], see quotation 1966;
bobbejaanstou /-ztəʊ/ [Afrikaans, tou rope], monkey-rope;
bobbejaanuintjie /-ˈœɪŋki/, bobbejaantjie.
See also baviaan sense 2.
1972 Palmer & Pitman Trees of Sn Afr. III. 2061The distinctive fruits..become soft when ripe and are eaten by baboons and monkeys, hence the common names ‘aapsekos’ and ‘bobbejaanappel’.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 132Several unrelated species..are regarded as inferior as a source of food..for human beings, hence bobbejaankos.
1983 D. Hughes et al. Complete Bk of S. Afr. Wine 16[The Khoikhoi] had no settled community or agriculture, living meagrely off shellfish and fruit, including the berries of a wild vine, Rhoicissus capensis, later to become popularly known as ‘bobbejaanstou’, or monkey creeper.
1971 L.G. Green Taste of S.-Easter 91You can tell the bobbejaanuintjie by its lovely flowers.
The chacma, Papio ursinus.
A nickname for one held to be a fool.
Entry Navigation

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary