Boer, noun

Forms:
Also with small initial, and (formerly) Boor.
Plurals:
Boers, Boere /buːrə/.
Origin:
Dutch, AfrikaansShow more Dutch, farmer. All senses are also found in Afrikaans.
Note:
The plural ‘boere’ is a recent form in South African English, first appearing in the 1970s, which suggests that the word was ‘re-borrowed’ from Afrikaans because of the new senses it had acquired in that language.
1.
a. A farmer; a rural Dutch- or Afrikaans-speaking person; plaasboer, see plaas sense 1 c.
Note:
Almost without exception referring to a Dutch- or Afrikaans-speaking farmer, this sense gradually widened to include all rural Dutch-speaking people (see quotations 1896 and 1900).
Note:
Used attributively in South African Dutch and Afrikaans, as well as in South African English, to designate domestic products or foodstuffs typically or mainly produced by early colonists, usually having the meaning ‘home-made’ or ‘country-style’: see Boer brandy and Boer bread. Used also to mean ‘indigenous’ in the names of plants and animals: see boerbok, boerboom, boerboon, boerbull. See also boere sense 2.
1776 F. Masson in Phil. Trans. of Royal Soc. LXVI. 282The boors informed us, the summers are often so unkindly, that their wheat is blighted while in ear, so that they purchase corn with their cattle from the low-country farmers.
1991 H. Jansen in Sunday Times 14 July 4Charlie, the black boer of Delmas..began life as a herdboy.
b. obsolete With distinguishing epithet designating a particular type of farmer:
cattle boer;
corn boer, a wheat-farmer or an agriculturalist;
melkboer /ˈmelk-/ [Afrikaans, melk milk], a dairy-farmer;
post boer, a farmer paid by the British colonial government to convey mail, usually once a fortnight, between his farm and the next post on a mail route;
schaapboer /ˈskɑːp-/ [Dutch, schaap sheep], a sheep-farmer;
vee-boer, see vee sense 2;
wine boer, wine farmer.
1827 G. Thompson Trav. 66Where he resides, had been formerly occupied by an extensive cattle boor, who had left a memorable monument of his residence in a prodigious dunghill just in front of the house.
1835 G. Champion Jrnl (1968) 11He was a wine boor (or farmer) living upon the products of his vineyard.
c. obs. Ellipt. for Boer tobacco.
1881 Looker On in Diggers’ Ditties (1989) 15I’ve gin and a pipeful of Boer.
1900 Westminster Gaz. (U.K.) 14 July 8A smoker may keep his pipe going from early morning till late at night if he uses good ‘Boer’.
d. In the idiomatic expression ’n boer maak ’n plan /ə ˈbuːr mɑːk ə ˌplan/ [Afrikaans, ‘a farmer makes a plan’]: in a crisis a creative solution may always be found. Also attributive. Cf. maak ’n plan (see maak sense 2).
1982 Daily Dispatch 11 Jan. 6Farm wisdom permeates our language. ’n Boer maak ’n plan is the automatic response to any situation regarding thought or discussion. I’ve heard it said sardonically in an operating theatre when the power supply failed.
1990 Style Feb. 30Karen’s platteland upbringing gave her..a unique ’n-boer-maak-’n-plan philosophy towards fashion.
2. Obsolete except in historical contexts A Dutch-speaking colonist at the Cape; subsequently, a Dutch-speaking inhabitant of southern Africa, especially of the Transvaal, Free State and Natal republics; settler sense 1. See also sense 4 below, Afrikaner sense 2 a, Boerdom, Boeress, Boerland, Boer Republic, Boer War, burgher sense 1 a.
1800 Lady A. Barnard in D. Fairbridge Lady Anne Barnard (1924) 227I do not think the Boers after what has passed will be turbulent in a hurry again.
1989 Reader’s Digest Illust. Hist. of S. Afr. 5Blacks, British, Boers..and blood; the history of our troubled country is steeped in the stuff, as Africans fought one another, the Boers fought the British, and both fought the Africans.
3. In historical contexts. A soldier of the Dutch- or Afrikaans-speaking forces fighting against British forces, especially during the Anglo-Boer War. Also attributive. See also Boer-Brit, Brother Boer.
1882 C.L. Norris-Newman With Boers in Tvl 301‘The behaviour of the Boers has won them the respect of many who formerly held them in contempt. Hardly an officer is there who has had anything whatever to do with our late enemies but is very favourably impressed with them.’
1989 W. Ebersohn in Cosmopolitan Apr. 200At the Treaty of Vereeniging, only six out of the 60 members of the Boer contingent were in favour of rejecting the terms and continuing the war.
4. An Afrikaner.
a. A pejorative name for an Afrikaner, used especially by black South Africans. Also attributive. Cf. Amabhulu sense 1.
1956 D. Jacobson Dance in Sun 39‘I knew the baas wasn’t a Boer’, the African said...If he had approached me on the strength of my not being an Afrikaner, or Boer as he preferred to put it, he had been foolhardy and reckless.
1990 J. Naidoo Coolie Location 153She speaks English to him, only English...You know,..no voetseks, no bliksems, no hey jongs, no pas ops...She never, never uses a single word of the Boer language.
b. An affectionate and humorous name used by Afrikaners of themselves.
1973 Weekend Post 17 Feb. 9We sit in Africa and we are not Africans...We go to England and we find out that we are Boers who try to live like the English here under the Southern Cross.
1990 R. Malan My Traitor’s Heart 127The great Boer poet (sc. Breyten Breytenbach) spent the sixties in exile in Paris and most of the seventies in a South African prison, paying for his role in a quixotic ‘terrorist’ plot.
c. A name used by right-wing Afrikaners of all Afrikaners sharing a similar outlook; cf. Boerevolk. Also attributive.
1978 Sunday Times 30 Apr. 7The Afrikaner cannot afford to allow a wedge to be cunningly driven between English and Afrikaner by catering only for a Boer homeland.
1990 R. Van Tonder in Style Oct. 121The Boers won’t stand for it. There will be a civil war...The armed forces and the police are almost all Boer boys.
5. A pejorative name for a white South African. Cf. Amabhulu sense 2.
1956 A. Sampson Drum 207When he went to the Coloured school, he was singled out for teasing. ‘Wit boer!’ they called him. ‘Why don’t you go to a white school, eh?’
1991 E. Prov. Herald 20 Mar. 11He said J— had found Mr K—, and decided to rob him. He protested, but J— said the ‘boer had a lot of money.’
6. A pejorative name for a member of the South African security forces, including any member of the police force, prison service, or defence force; in the plural, the police force, prison service, or defence force. Cf. Amabhunu sense 3.
1970 S. Smuts Informant, Cape TownThe boere threw the drunkard in the van.
1991 [see sense 1 a].
7. In historical contexts. Usually plural. A pejorative name for the South African government. See also Pretoria sense 1 a.
1976 E. Prov. Herald 19 Nov. 17A Coloured school principal who is a member of the liaison committee in his town..said he had been told his home was stoned because ‘I work with the Boere’.
1990 Sunday Times 18 Feb. 5Within ANC ranks people who spoke to ‘the Boere’ were treated with suspicion by hardliners who preferred ‘war-war’ to ‘jaw-jaw’.
A farmer; a rural Dutch- or Afrikaans-speaking person; plaasboer, see plaas1 c.
Ellipt. for Boer tobacco.
in a crisis a creative solution may always be found. Also attributive.
A Dutch-speaking colonist at the Cape; subsequently, a Dutch-speaking inhabitant of southern Africa, especially of the Transvaal, Free State and Natal republics; settler1.
A soldier of the Dutch- or Afrikaans-speaking forces fighting against British forces, especially during the Anglo-Boer War. Also attributive.
An Afrikaner.
A pejorative name for an Afrikaner, used especially by black South Africans. Also attributive.
An affectionate and humorous name used by Afrikaners of themselves.
A name used by right-wing Afrikaners of all Afrikaners sharing a similar outlook;
A pejorative name for a white South African.
A pejorative name for a member of the South African security forces, including any member of the police force, prison service, or defence force; in the plural, the police force, prison service, or defence force.
A pejorative name for the South African government.

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary

Senses