British English, South African English, Australian English, New Zealand English, South African English, AfrikaansShow more British English dialect, but standard in South African English, Australian English, and New Zealand English; reinforced in South African English by Afrikaans dam, in this sense.
A man-made pond or reservoir where rain- or springwater is collected for storage. Also attributive.
Used primarily of the reservoir and its contents: in South African English, the wall is seldom called the ‘dam’, but rather the ‘dam wall’ (see quotation 1912).
1826G. Barker Journal. 12 Dec.Visited the Dam &c & was delighted with the quantity & quality of the water.
1836J. Collett Diary. I. 23 Feb.Rain most excessive Dams running over in Torrents but no great damage.
1840J. Collett Diary. I. 12 MayDams & Rivers full & Land springs all running.
1843J.C. ChaseCape of G.H. 155On his estate..there are now three dams, each capable of floating a considerable sized vessel.
1859Queenstown Free Press 1 June (Pettman)The remedy for this is not the excavation of dams, the digging of wells, or the formation of tanks, but the construction of a railway.
1878A. AylwardTvl of Today 156The word ‘dam’ in Africa means reservoir, and not ‘containing wall’, as it does here.
1890A. MartinHome Life 82Every Karroo house has a dam near it, and on a large farm there are generally three or four more of these reservoirs in different parts of the land.
1909Lady S. WilsonS. Afr. Mem. 85In the distance we could see the glimmering blue waters of a huge dam.
1912Northern News 30 Aug. (Pettman)Dam and dam which in Holland and England are embankments, here denote a pool or reservoir, and ‘wal’ takes the place of the Dutch ‘dam’.
1931F.C. SlaterSecret Veld 42I came upon a large dam, fringed with weeping willows...Two Kaffirs, with the aid of two oxen and a dam-scraper, were engaged in dredging the dam.
1948H. WolhuterMem. of Game Ranger 4We used to spend the whole day swimming and boating in the dam.
1960J. CopeTame Ox 133Making money was easy as falling in a dam.
1971Daily Dispatch 4 June (Queenstown Suppl.) 6Water? We’ve a dam full to spare...The dam, situated between beautiful rolling hills, has numerous picnic sites around it and the dam itself is stocked with black bass and bluegill.
1979J. GratusJo’burgers 116The farm dam had been greatly enlarged and was now filled with the inky water.