brown, adjective and & noun

Forms:
Also with initial capital.
Origin:
English, AfrikaansShow more English; in certain senses, perhaps influenced by Afrikaans bruin ‘coloured’, bruinmense ‘coloured’ people.
A. adjective
1. In historical contexts. Of the Khoikhoi. Also used absolutely.
1837 J.E. Alexander Narr. of Voy. I. 322A long wagon would pass..drawn by a span of ten or fourteen oxen under the guidance of a voorloper, a brown boy.
1926 P.W. Laidler Tavern of Ocean 3Saldanha’s men collided with the Hottentots...This affray laid the foundation of the bad feeling between the brown and white.
1968 K. McMagh Dinner of Herbs 27He allowed the old Hottentot to take charge. It was the old brown man who gave the orders.
2. coloured participial adjective sense a.
a. As a qualifier in the following noun phrases: brown Afrikaner [probably a translation of Afrikaans bruin Afrikaner ‘coloured’ Afrikaner (see Afrikaner)], a ‘coloured’ person; brown Nat [see Nat], a ‘coloured’ member of the National Party; brown people [translation of Afrikaans bruinmense ‘coloured’ people], a collective name for the ‘coloured’ community.
1898 W.C. Scully Vendetta 95He had heard that ‘brown people’ were whipped in Cape Town if they stole, which was quite right if they stole when they were not hungry.
1924 S.G. Millin God’s Step-Children 216‘My house is full,’ she said obstinately. ‘And I cannot find room for brown people.’
1960 J.P. van S. Bruwer in H. Spottiswoode S. Afr.: Rd Ahead 52The political development of the Bantu on the one hand, and the political development of the Brown People (usually referred to as Coloureds) and the Indians on the other hand.
1969 A. Fugard Boesman & Lena 20Lena: It’s a hard life for us brown people hey. Boesman: He’s not brown people, he’s black people.
1970 S. Pienaar in E. Prov. Herald 4 Nov. 15Language, culture, religion, you have got your Coloured poets..in Afrikaans. Their music is linked to Afrikaans. In all these respects they are ‘brown Afrikaners’.
1973 T. Swartz in E. Prov. Herald 4 Nov. 15We reject the concept of Black consciousness or identification with any other race. ‘So naturally we do not want to be known as “Brown Afrikaners”.’
1973 Weekend Post 30 June 3Coloured academic and political leaders in the Cape have reacted to Dr Connie Mulder’s statement this week that they will never be ‘Brown Afrikaners’ by telling him sharply that they have no wish to be called by that name.
1973 Cape Times 21 June 11The chairman of the Student’s Representative Council, Mr Christoff Pauw, believes that as a starting point Whites must be prepared to share political power with ‘the Brown people’.
1975 G.J. Gerwel in T. Sundermeier Church & Nationalism 71The ‘brown Afrikaner’ idea finds very few adherents these days. This is partly due to the Afrikaner’s (at times rude) rejection of the idea, but also to the fact that Afrikanerdom is identified as an oppressive force.
1981 E. Prov. Herald 13 May 8The coloureds are ‘brown Afrikaners’ who may yet in the future be accepted as such. Their culture is substantially Western.
1982 Rand Daily Mail 25 Feb. 4For 34 years the National Party had rejected, despised and disenfranchised the brown people.
1990 R. Stengel January Sun 40The Coloured, one of South Africa’s four main racial categories, are sometimes known as ‘brown Afrikaners’ because they are descended from mixed parentage and generally speak Afrikaans as their first language. Since ‘light-skinned’ Coloured were virtually impossible to differentiate from Afrikaners, the Population Registration Act of 1950 emphasized association and ancestry as the principal ways of establishing who was white.
1991 E. Prov. Herald 19 June 1An embattled Labour Party drove back a no-confidence motion proposed by the ‘brown Nats’ yesterday by 43 votes to 40.
1992 G. Davis in Weekly Mail 16 Apr. 27A brown Nat is a stupid Nat.
1995 C. Lawrance in Natal Witness 3 Jan. 7Japie, the brown builder.
b. Simple adjectival uses.
1960 D.P. de V. Graaff (broadsheet)Let us get away from the idea at once that we can sit in a White citadel and quarrel about what shall be done about the Black and brown peoples outside, as our Nationalist friends want to do.
1972 Evening Post 19 Aug. 4South Africans’ attitudes and actions were conditioned by race and colour. There were White South Africans, ‘off-White’ South Africans, Brown South Africans and Black South Africans.
1973 Weekend Post 30 June 3We Coloured people are South Africans, not Brown South Africans.
3. obsolete. Of any group which is not white; cf. black adjective sense 2.
1906 W.S. Johnson Orangia 5Some hungry little Bushman might drive several of them (sc. oxen) off..or..a mob of angry Kaffirs..might even rush in and try to steal or kill...Many a boy, not older than you..had to use his rifle and take away a brown man’s life rather than lose his own.
4. Of any of several dark-skinned groups which are not African.
1977 Std Bank Review Apr. 2Considerations outside the realm of economic policy dictated..much higher outlays on improved social services, housing and education of the country’s brown and black population.
1978 S. Afr. Digest 8 Sept. 9Referring to accusations that the Indian and Coloured communities had rejected the new constitutional proposal, Mr Botha said there was no one who could say that South Africa’s Brown peoples had rejected the plan.
1989 Weekend Post 4 Nov. 14The aim of the negotiations will be a constitution with which the broad majority of South Africans — black, white and brown — can identify and in which they can share fully.
1990 C. St Leger in Sunday Times 17 Feb. 12Jonathon S— is nearly three years old. Officially he is neither white, black nor brown. Until now, he’s been a non-person.
1993 H. Tyson Editors under Fire 13Black editors and brown editors took different sides from each other in their debates with white editors, who also adopted a variety of positions.
B. noun
1. A ‘coloured’ person (see coloured noun sense a).
1861 H. Rabone in A. Rabone Rec. of Pioneer Family (1966) 123I have not the slightest disgust to blacks or browns, can touch them, nurse them and get on very well with their race.
1973 Cape Times 30 June 8I believe that 99 per cent of Browns don’t give two hoots for White South Africa’s security, but they would all welcome freedom of the individual.
1975 Het Suid-Western 6 Aug. 2Now the Council has set about preventing the Browns from attending a drive-in cinema.
1977 S. Afr. Panorama May 11As for the constitutional position of the Browns and Asians — and of the urban Blacks — that will have to be handled in ways still to be properly explored.
1981 Flying Springbok Dec. 25Compulsory education for Blacks and Browns is being phased in as rapidly as numbers of teachers and classrooms permit.
1990 Weekend Post 5 May 10‘I’m staying here,’ called a Nationalist member. ‘Then we will reclassify you,’ offered Mr Curry. The Nationalist member could be an honorary brown.
2. Military. Always in the plural : A colloquial name for the brown uniform of the South African National Defence Forces; cf. nutria. Also with qualifier, bush-browns.
1979 National Serviceman, InformantBrowns are hell to iron. You’ve got to have sharp lines straight up the sleeves and overall pants, leg-pockets and all.
1982 Weekend Argus 18 Dec. 16When the deejay in bush-browns gets the music going, there’s exuberance in his boots, and Heideveld’s communal sportsfields become an outdoor dance floor.
1983 C. Von Keyserlink in Frontline Feb. 37The Defence Force has stopped issuing most trainees with ‘stepouts,’ as the smart uniforms are known, and now specifies ‘browns’ as suitable gear for outings.
1983 Evening Post 28 Mar. 3Recently, Navy authorities in Pretoria gave the official go ahead for the traditional blue uniforms to be phased in again as working dress...There had been an argument about browns being more flammable than the cotton used in blues.
1984 Fair Lady 14 Nov. 136At the end of the day..you see the men, now out of their heavy browns, wandering around the barracks talking to each other.
1990 S. Murray in Staffrider Vol.9 No.2, 73A maid begins To hang surburban washing. Flapping in the late March sun, Army browns rise and fall.
1993 A. Vinassa in Femina Sept. 50A Buffel full of soldiers dressed in browns sits parked on the pavement.
Of the Khoikhoi. Also used absolutely.
a collective name for the ‘coloured’ community.
Simple adjectival uses.
Of any group which is not white;
Of any of several dark-skinned groups which are not African.
A ‘coloured’ person (see colourednouna).
A colloquial name for the brown uniform of the South African National Defence Forces;
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