elephant, noun

Special Combinations
elephant fish [see quotation 1867.] The marine fish Callorhinchus capensis of the Callorhincidae (this name being used for the species in Smith and Heemstra’s Smith’s Sea Fishes, 1986); joseph;
elephant-gun in historical contexts, roer sense a;
elephant rock Geology [see quotation 1913], weathered dolomite;
elephant’s ear, also elephant ear, elephants ears [see quotation 1913; the name has been used elsewhere of other large-leafed plants], any of several plants with large leaves said to resemble elephants’ ears, especially Grewia lasiocarpia (Natal), Eriospermum capense (Eastern Cape), and two species of the Arum family, particularly Arum esculentum;
elephant’s food, also elephants’ food [see quotation 1856], spekboom sense 1; also attributive;
elephant’s foot [see quotation 1913; the name is used in general English for other plants], the yam-like plant Dioscorea elephantipes of the Dioscoreaceae, having a large edible tuber growing partly above the ground; Hottentot(’s) bread sense (b), see Hottentot noun sense 6 a; also attributive;
elephant shark, elephant fish (see above);
elephant shrew [see quotation 1918], any of several African shrews of the Macroscelididae, characterized by a flexible, trunk-like snout;
elephant’s trunk [see quotation 1913], the halfmens, Pachypodium namaquanum.
1790 J. Cook Voy. of Disc. (1908) IV. 1283Fish..known to seamen by the name of elephant fish.
1833 W.F.W. Owen Narr. of Voy. II. 228Two boats were sent to survey, while others were engaged fishing off Pelican Point, but they produced only a boat-load of young ground-sharks, elephant fish, and white bass.
1867 W.H. Smyth Sailor’s Word-BkElephant-fish, the Chimæra callorhynchus named from the proboscis-like process on its nose.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 162Elephant fish, Callorhyncus antarcticus, is so called because of the proboscis-like process which it bears on the front of the head.
1949 J.L.B. Smith Sea Fishes of Sn Afr. 77Callorhynchus capensis...Doodskop. Josup. Josef. Monkeyfish. Elephant fish...Lives in shallower water than the other members of this order...An object of curiosity whenever seen, but not rare.
1986 Smith & Heemstra Smiths’ Sea Fishes 147Elephantfish...Flesh excellent especially when marinated.
1993 R. Van der Elst Guide to Common Sea Fishes 33The elephantfish has no scales and its skin is exceptionally smooth...Increasingly marketed as a substitute for kingklip fillets.
1877 R.M. Ballantyne Settler & Savage 174George Rennie, who ultimately acquired the title of the Lion-hunter, came to the rendezvous with a large elephant-gun on his shoulder.
1897 R.S.S. Baden-Powell Matabele Campaign 152The boom of the elephant gun roaring dully from inside a cave is answered by the sharp crack of a Martini-Henry.
1957 G. Tylden in Africana Notes & News Vol.12 No.6, 216Frederick Courteney Selous, killed in action in Tanganyika at the age of 65 in 1916. In 1871 he trekked North with Viljoen using a ‘Boer elephant gun.’
1971 F.V. Lategan in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. IV. 518In his description of the Battle of Blood River, Preller..refers to the small arms used by the Boers during the fight as snaphaan and elephant-gun.
1971 F.V. Lategan in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. IV. 520The Voortrekkers..had elephant-guns of 4, 6, 8 and 10 bore.
[1987 Weekly Mail 12 June 12I borrowed one of Barney’s white elephant guns and bought a pensioner’s special on SAA.]
1896 R. Wallace Farming Indust. of Cape Col. 54Dolomitic limestone..weathers into curious irregular shapes, which somewhat resemble the wrinkled hide of an elephant, hence the origin of one of its names, Elephant Rock, or in Dutch ‘Oliphant Klip.’
[1905 H. Kynaston in Flint & Gilchrist Science in S. Afr. 283The rock is known as ‘Olifants Klip’ by the Boers.]
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 162Elephant rock, A stratum comprised principally of dolomite limestone, when exposed to the weather it is worn into irregular corrugations, which are not unlike the wrinkles on the hide of an elephant — hence the name, which is a literal rendering of the Dutch ‘Olifants Klip’.
1970 Beeton & Dorner in Eng. Usage in Sn Afr. Vol.1 No.1, 43Elephant rock,..Name for dolomite.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 163Elephant’s ear, In Queenstown the boys give this name to Eriospermum Bellindi, Sweet; a liliaceous plant bearing a single cordate ovate leaf, resembling an ear.
1917 R. Marloth Dict. of Common Names of Plants 26Elephant’s ear, Eriospermum Bettendem (Queenstown). Tuber and leaf the largest in the genus.
c1968 S. Candy Natal Coast Gardening 32Xanthosoma violaceum, ‘Elephant Ear’. An aroid with large, blue-grey, safittale leaves and deep blue, long leaf-stems. Grown in many Natal coast gardens.
1971 Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. IV. 288Elephant’s-Ear, Olifantsoor, Name applied to several plants belonging to different families, but probably most often to two species of the arum family (Araceae).
1976 S. Cloete Chetoko 110The plants on the veranda..looked beautiful — elephant ears, ferns, begonias, caladiums and rubber plants.
1990 Weekend Post 26 May (Leisure) 7The botanical name of the plant is Colocasia esculenta or C. antiquarum and many gardeners will know it as elephants ears.
1990 Weekend Post 3 Dec. (Leisure) 7Strelitzia nicolai and a giant alocasia (elephant’s ear) add to the tropical atmosphere.
[1829elephant’s food: C. Rose Four Yrs in Sn Afr. 71The speck boom, food for the elephant, almost hid by the ivy geraniums rising to its top.]
1856 F.P. Fleming Sn Afr. 125The Elephant was said to live upon it (sc. the spekboom), hence it has likewise been styled in Africa, ‘Elephant’s-food.’
[a1884 E. Wiggill in J.K. Larson, Talbots, Sweetnams & Wiggills. (1953) 17A peculiar tree grows here in abundance, called ‘speck-boom’ by the Dutch, known in England as ‘elephant’s food.’ The leaves are small, thick, and juicy, and very sour.]
1891 O.E.A. Schreiner Thoughts on S. Afr. (1923) 36You climb out and light a fire and gather from afar and near stumps of dried elephant’s food and euphorbia, and throw them on the fire.
1917 R. Marloth Dict. of Common Names of Plants 26Elephant’s food, = Spekboom.
1964 A. Rothmann Elephant Shrew 33Miles and miles of bush, a dense, impenetrable mass of num-num, thorn bushes, ‘taaibos’,..and above all elephant’s food or ‘spekboom’.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 210Elephant’s food, Portulacia afra...The species in earlier days was much browsed by elephants. Today the plants form the staple food of the elephants preserved in the Addo Bush.
1974 Grocott’s Mail 3 Dec. 1Elephant’s food or spekboom contributes the most to the diet of goats.
1986 P. Pieterse Day of Giants 38Near the house he squatted beside the shiny, greyish pink bole of an elephants’ food tree.
1790 W. Paterson Narr. of Four Journeys 72Found many curious plants, among which was one called Elephant’s Foot...It has a large solid bulb, which sprouts to the height of five or six feet, and afterwards shoots out into small climbing branches with roundish heart-shaped leaves.
1872 D. Oliver Lessons in Elementary Botany II. 271Testudinaria elephantipes..From the appearance of the rhizome it is called ‘Elephant’s foot’ at the Cape of Good Hope.
1883 M.A. Carey-Hobson Farm in Karoo 215The ‘elephant’s foot,’ wonderfully like a huge tortoise which had been fantastically decorated with the most delicate wreaths of pale-green leaves, added not a little to the novelty of the scene.
1887 S.W. Silver & Co.’s Handbk to S. Afr. 161The Elephant’s Foot, which is also called Hottentot’s Bread, Testudinaria Elephantipes..belongs to the same order as the Yam...Varying in size from that of the bottom of a wineglass to that of a chair, succulent, tuberous, excrescent-like, perennial growths, divided into compartments like the back of a tortoise, whence the plant has received its generic name of Testudinaria.
1906 B. Stoneman Plants & their Ways 276Testudinaria (Elephant’s foot).
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 163Elephant’s foot, Testundinaria elephantipes. The popular name of this curious member of the Yam family. It has a hard woody protuberance, sometimes of enormous size, partly embedded in the earth, which bears some slight resemblance to an elephant’s foot.
1976 A.P. Brink Instant in Wind 238We have also found hidden jackal’s food and ngaap and elephant’s foot.
1988 Personality 17 Oct. 38The biggest succulent ever found in the area was..an ‘Elephant’s Foot’..said to be more than 1 000 years old, 1,25 metres high and 2 metres in diameter!
1994 A. Craig in M. Roberts tr. of J.A. Wahlberg’s Trav. Jrnls 1838–56 7Elephant’s foot Dioscorea elephantipes, which has a large tuber partly above the ground, and produces a spray of greenish flowers in summer.
1868 J.G. Wood Homes without Hands 15The Elephant Shrew of Southern Africa (Macroscelides typicus) a thick-furred, long-snouted, short-eared burrower.
1905 Science in S. Afr. 135The Elephant shrews (Macroscelides) are met with mostly among the rocky kopjes, and on the dry open karroo.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 163Elephant shrew, Macroscelides typicus, Smith. The name has reference to the proboscis-like snout, which is not unlike a diminutive elephant’s trunk.
1918 S.H. Skaife Animal Life in S. Afr. 253The elephant shrew are so called, not because of their size, but because of their elongated snouts which slightly resemble short trunks.
1964 A. Rothmann (title)Elephant Shrew.
1971 D.J. Potgieter et al. Animal Life in Sn Afr. 346The elephant-shrews or jumping shrews (Macroscelidea) are insect-eaters, and the whole order is confined to Africa.
1986 R.H.N. Smithers Land Mammals 9Family Macroscelididae, elephant shrews. The characteristic feature of members of this family is the elongated, trunk-like, exceedingly mobile snout.
1992 M. Bruorton in Afr. Wildlife Vol.46 No.6, 272Elephant-shrews are an important, but little known and largely unseen, component of our indigenous mammalian fauna...All the elephant shrews belong to the family Macroscelididae...In southern Africa the family is well represented by seven species belonging to three genera, Petrodromus (one species), Elephantulus (five species), and Macroscelides (one species).
1868 J. Chapman Trav. II. 325Isaac..noticed a plant of the cactus or euphorbia tribe, known by the name of elephant’s trunk.
1868 W.H. Harvey Genera of S. Afr. Plants 247A[denium] Namaquanum, Wyl. (the ‘Elephant’s Trunk’) is a singular shrub of Namaqualand.
1887 S.W. Silver & Co.’s Handbk to S. Afr. 161Still more remarkable for its appearance is the Elephant’s Trunk, found in Namaqualand, the Adenium Namaquanum...The Bushman name of this plant is Hurip, preceded by a click.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 163Elephant’s trunk,..A singular plant found in Namaqualand, having a thick, fleshy trunk some 5 or 6 feet high, not unlike an elephant’s trunk in shape.
1973 Beeton & Dorner in Eng. Usage in Sn Afr. Vol.4 No.1, 41Elephant’s trunk,..Spiny succulent found in Namaqualand; has stout cylindrical stems wh[ich] grow to a height of 2,5m.
1990 S. Rowles in Weekend Post 16 June (Leisure) 1Stopping at a halfmens tree (also called elephant’s trunk) Kobus pointed out some of the features of the area.
1992 T. Van Rensburg in S. Afr. Panorama Mar.Apr. 8In the Richtersveld..the quiver tree..and the elephant’s trunk (Pachypodium namaquanum) are the most typical [plants].