donga, noun

Origin:
Xhosa, ZuluShow more Xhosa and Zulu udonga.
An eroded gully or watercourse formed by the action of running water, but usually dry and with steep, bare sides. Cf. sloot sense 2. Also attributive.
1879 R.J. Atcherley Trip to Boërland 134The dongas which debouched into the creek became so deeply cut in the earth that, in order to avoid the repeated difficulties we encountered in crossing them, we had to shape our course higher up on the brow of the hill.
1881 E. London Dispatch & Frontier Advertiser 26 Jan. 3As the enemy seemed to appear and disappear very quickly in that direction there must be some large body hidden in a donga, or deep declivity, who might be massing for an attack.
1884 Layard & Sharpe Birds of S. Afr. 547Nests were found..built on the banks of streams or dry ‘dongas’.
1896 W.C. Scully in A.D. Dodd Anthology of Short Stories (1958) 30‘Incinci’, the honey-bird,..often led them to where the bees had stored their treasure in hollow trees and holes in the donga-banks.
1899 Natal Agric. Jrnl 31 Mar. 4‘Donga’ a dry water course, and equivalent to the Indian ‘nullah’ is a useful word for South Africa.
1907 W.C. Scully By Veldt & Kopje 75With lightnings and thunderings the long-sealed fountains of the sky burst open, and every kloof and donga became a roaring river.
1911 Farmer’s Weekly 4 Oct. 117The rain that falls on the bared mountain side rushes off in silt-laden torrents which cut deep dongas through the agricultural lands below..to convert a fruitful country into an arid desert.
1922 J.P. Fitzpatrick Letter. (N.E.L.M. A/LC 11 1048/72)You have yourself seen how roads are turned into dongas and how costly and almost impossible it is to drain them once they have worn down.
1931 G. Beet Grand Old Days 91A stream from the neighbouring hills trickled through the valley in the rainy season, though for many months in the year it was only a dry donga.
1948 H.V. Morton In Search of S. Afr. 174Thousands of miserable cattle and goats roamed everywhere, making tracks that would some day form cracks which successive rains would open into gullies and dongas.
1968 Post 4 Feb. 12There are no latrines in this place and we have to go to the dongas or the veld.
1976 J. McClure Rogue Eagle 69The lowlands were everywhere striated by the deep, sharp-edged gullies called dongas.
1986 J. Deacon in S. Afr. Panorama Sept. 9Here, in Ciskei, gabions (stones in wire baskets,) have been used to dam a donga. The result: water and soil accumulates, grass grows.
1993 Weekend Post 31 July (Leisure) 1Through dongas, up mountain passes, across grasslands, through mud, tornadoes and any other natural disaster, his vehicle has gone places.
An eroded gully or watercourse formed by the action of running water, but usually dry and with steep, bare sides.
Derivatives:
Hence donga-ed adjective nonce, scarred by dongas.
1990 T. Hull in Personality 18 June 30The rest of the time you’re scrabbling in low ratio four-wheel-drive up and down rocky donga-ed slopes that bounce you around like puppets.
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18791993

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