South African Dutch, AfrikaansShow more In sense a, probably calqued on South African Dutch (later Afrikaans) af in die rivier kom af; sense b probably developed from sense a.
Of a (periodically dry) river:
a. In the intransitive verb phrase to come down: to swell, to rise.
Also found in Australian and N.Z. English from the 1860s.
1854R.B. Struthers St. Lucia Hunting Diary. (Killie Campbell Africana Library KCM55079) 53The river began to rise rapidly & we had just time to get the oxen back again, when the stream came down with overwhelming force.
1882J. NixonAmong Boers 135There was a man with an ox waggon outspanned on the bank, who told us that he had crossed that morning at eleven. He had some other waggons on the opposite side, but before he could get a second one over, the water came ‘down’ and cut him off from them.
1892W.L. DistantNaturalist in Tvl 60Three Dutch anglers who were sleeping..on the banks of the Pienaar’s River..were swept away by a sudden flood or ‘coming down’ of the stream.
1897J.P. FitzpatrickOutspan 111The next drift would be worse still. The river was coming down.
c1904E.L. PriceJrnls (1956) 58The danger..kept my father & mother waking every now & again to listen whether the great river might not come down in the night — a great Swollen torrent — & sweep wagons & everything away with it.
1919M.M. SteynDiary 275When we reached the Modder River..we were stuck there because the river had come down and we were unable to cross.
1937J. Stevenson-HamiltonS. Afr. Eden 94During the night the river had come down in partial flood, and some rather urgently required belongings were marooned on the opposite bank.
1943F.H. RoseKruger’s Wagon 217These particular reptiles..had been swept into the pool on some occasion of the river ‘coming down’, as the African river floods are called.
1965J. BennettHawk Alone 153Stuart had waded out neck-high one day with the surf dirty from the river coming down, got in a good cast, and turned shorewards to see two big yellow-belly sharks.
1981Daily Dispatch 16 Feb. 9The Buffels River came down in two peaks. The first was a normal flood level and receded reasonably significantly, but then the second peak came.
1990R. MalanMy Traitor’s Heart 318The drought dragged on until 1982, only to break in a raging cloudburst...The river came down in spate and crippled Neil’s beloved waterwheel.
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