eat, verb transitive

Xhosa, Zulu, South African English, EnglishShow more Translation of Xhosa and Zulu dla eat, consume, impose a fine; the use of this phrase in South African English seems to have arisen independently of the general English use of a similar phrase which appeared long before this:
obs. except in historical contexts
In the phrase to eat up.
To punish (someone, especially one accused of witchcraft) by taking possession of all his or her property and cattle; to exterminate (a people or group); to destroy (the crops or possessions of a people or group); to send a punitive expedition against (a people or group).
1827 G. Thompson Trav. 202They were coming to eat up the corn and cattle of the Bechuanas, and..afterwards they would proceed against the Macooas (white people) in the south.
1832 Graham’s Town Jrnl 6 July 109We consider it quite indifferent to the cause of humanity whether Dingaan eats him up or he Dingaan, as both these Chiefs are conquerors in their way.
1835 T.H. Bowker Journal. 22 Apr.Yesterday a fingoo complained that a Caffir Capt. had eat him up, Col Smith to[l]d him to go & eat him up in return. Upon which the fellow went away and returned again this morning with 18 head of cattle.
1848 H. Ward Five Yrs in Kaffirland I. 131Umhala, a Kaffir Chief, was summoned by the Lieutenant-Governor, to show cause why he had threatened to ‘eat up’ Gasella, another Chief, his step-brother.
1852 R.J. Garden Diary. I. (Killie Campbell Africana Library MS29081) 21 Apr.The man denounced is forthwith eaten up by the tribe, that is robbed & plundered & reduced to beggary. In some cases death is the portion.
1855 J.W. Colenso Ten Weeks in Natal 28Moshesh has lately ‘eaten up’ Sinkoneyalla, one of our ‘allies,’ who has applied to us for redress, which he will not get.
1882 C.L. Norris-Newman With Boers in Tvl 30The history of Natal may thus fitly be summed up as having been for many years the home of a peaceful and primitive peaple, who were ruthlessly ‘eaten up’ by the Zulu hordes under Charka.
1895 J. Widdicombe In Lesuto 181The rebel party..proceeded to eat them up with all speed, and with the utmost thoroughness. Their village was burnt, everything they possessed taken from them, and they themselves compelled to take refuge with us at ‘the Camp.’
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 160Eat up, To, Among the Zulus, the evil-doer, his wives and children, were all massacred, his property confiscated, and his name blotted out; he was said to be ‘eaten up’. Among the Cape Kaffirs the man’s property was seized and he was driven out to wander as an outcast...The expression is also used to describe the result to the vanquished of a pitched battle of tribe against tribe.
1926 W.A. Cotton Race Problem in S. Afr. 126Basutoland, as part of the Union, would sorely tempt the cupidity of the Orange Free State men to cross the Caledon and ‘eat it up’.
1937 B.H. Dicke Bush Speaks 30He threatened to ‘eat up’ (destroy with anything he had) any native (and his family) who should infringe this order.
1949 O. Walker Proud Zulu (1951) 70No-one who leaves my district to pray for Cetewayo need think of returning to it; he who does can consider himself turned out and his family eaten up.
1951 T.V. Bulpin Lost Trails of Low Veld 137The..Basuto of Swaziland were rapidly eaten up by the voracious Sobuza. His tribe fattened on the captured warriors and women and its numbers and wealth doubled and doubled again.
1964 G. Campbell Old Dusty 27The people living in the valley were eaten up by an impi.
1972 A. Scholefield Wild Dog Running 134Far to the north-east of us Chaka, King of the Zulus, was ‘eating up’ the tribes that surrounded him.
To punish (someone, especially one accused of witchcraft) by taking possession of all his or her property and cattle; to exterminate (a people or group); to destroy (the crops or possessions of a people or group); to send a punitive expedition against (a people or group).
Hence eating up verbal noun phrase, the appropriation by a chief or his people of the possessions of an individual, clan, or tribe in disfavour. Also attributive.
1836 A.G. Bain Jrnls (1949) 185I sent the prisoner to Fort Cox to Capt. Stretch requesting him, should there be any ‘eating up’ in this case, to give Makaluma a mouthful.
1844 J.M. Bowker Speeches & Sel. (1864) 181He is also dreadfully afraid of the eating-up-system, which, as a system of his own, he perfectly understands, and knows well that brother will join against brother when that’s to be done.
1852 A.W. Cole Cape & Kafirs 191‘Eating-up’ has a very awkward sound, when applied to their fellow-men by savages. The Kafir is very fond of the term, and the practice is very common among his people: but it simply means taking a man’s cattle, his land, his corn, his property of every description, burning down his hut, and turning him out...‘Eating-up’ is practised by the Chiefs against refractory or obnoxious subjects, and is occasionally adopted to punish certain crimes.
1860 W. Shaw Story of my Mission 443The Chief’s cattle-folds are replenished from time to time by fines and occasional ‘eating up’ of delinquents, by which is meant the confiscation of the whole of their property, for alleged witchcraft, treason, or other great political crimes.
1885 H. Rider Haggard King Solomon’s Mines 192The ‘eating up’ of your kraals shall cease; each one of you shall sleep secure in his own hut and fear not.
Entry Navigation

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary