bone, noun

EnglishShow more Special senses of general English.
1. dolos sense 1. Usually in the plural.
1849 J.D. Lewins Diary. 3 Oct.Consulted for fun the Mantatee doctor with his bones, who for a sixpence told me as many lies as he spoke words.
1898 B. Mitford Induna’s Wife 38Now cast me ‘the bones’, Lalusini, that I might know what success, if any, lieth before me.
1929 J. Stevenson-Hamilton Low-Veld 221For ‘smelling out’ purposes it is nowadays usual for witch doctors to invoke the assistance of ‘the bones.’
1936 Williams & May I Am Black 147Gugugu the the omens by fire, by the gall of an ox, by bones, and by many potent medicines.
1946 S. Cloete Afr. Portraits 224We have cast the bones and they say that she is guilty.
1958 S. Cloete Mask 89The future is foretold by the manner in which the bones fall...The bone which represents..the thrower, is the knuckle joint of the aardvark or antbear...The knuckle bone of a hyena represents the forefathers...The beak of a vulture or eagle gives direction...Each bone has four positions. Upright means walking, upside down means sick or dead, falling on the left side means resting or watchful. On the right, since this is the assegai or striking arm, means that the person whose fortune is being told is helpless and in danger.
1968 Cole & Flaherty House of Bondage 153If the bones indicate that the patient suffers a tormented spirit,..the case is beyond the Herbalist’s competence and he passes it on to..the diviner.
1974 C.T. Binns Warrior People 261There is a wide variety in the bones themselves, but basically they consist of astragalus bones, to which there may be added the claw of a lion,..cowrie shells or the bones of a bird. Each bone has its own particular praise name.
1974 Drum 8 Apr. 32‘Let lightning smite me in two..if these my bones should ever tell even half a lie,’ and old Dabula wipes the sweat from his furrowed brow.
1980 A.J. Blignaut Dead End Rd 74He had studied the lie of the bones in the sand where they had come to rest as he shook them out of his meerkat-skin pouch.
1987 Personality 21 Oct. 12Monica went through the ceremony of blowing on the bones. Then..she told me my bones were ‘healthy’.
2. combinations (objective)
bone-thrower noun, a diviner;
bone-throwing, bone-tossing verbal nouns, divining.
See also to throw (the) bones (throw sense 2).
1917 S.T. Plaatje Native Life 323The lower middle-class Boers attach great weight to the guesses of native bonethrowers.
1955 D.C. Themba in J. Crwys-Williams S. Afr. Despatches (1989) 323If the bone-thrower says he’ll show up the bastard who’s been slinging lightning at me, I expect him to swing that bolt of lightning right back.
1971 P. Becker on Radio South Africa 14 Nov.People like diviners and bone-throwers, prophets and exorcisers of evil spirits.
1980 M. Melamu in M. Mutloatse Forced Landing 51I don’t see that I matter so much for Georgina to take the trouble of going to a nyanga on my account. If she goes to bone-throwers, that’s her own indaba.
1980 A.G.T.K. Malikongwa in Staffrider Vol.3 No.1, 34He is..a great bone thrower. His bones speak with great precision.
1967 Post 23 July 15The young pretty sangoma has made her bone-throwing business one of the most successful in the country.
1982 P. Wilhelm in Staffrider Vol.5 No.1, 19This is not a war of bone-throwing, Comrade Bula. This is the twentieth century. We fight with guns, not spears.
1939 M. Rorke Melina Rorke 114The blowing and bone-tossing went on for about a quarter of an hour.
dolos sense 1. Usually in the plural.
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