flats, plural noun

Forms:
Also with initial capital.
Origin:
DutchShow more Calque formed on Dutch vlakte, vlaktes plains.
a. The flats: Short for the Cape Flats, see Cape Flats.
1834 W.H.B. Webster Narr. of Voy. to Sn Atlantic Ocean 263The first few miles of the road the travelling was excellent, till we turned out into a dreary and barren sandy country called the Flats, which in some degree resemble the barren heath tracts of England.
1847 A Bengali Notes on Cape of G.H. 67The sand on the flats is in some places in high white ridges,..and totally devoid of vegetation.
c1933 J. Juta in A.C. Partridge Lives, Lett. & Diaries (1971) 162The flats, The sandy, shrub-covered area, separating the Cape peninsula from the hinterland.
1970 J. Packer Veronica 16My father has a nice little house — high up with a view of the Bay. The Government will take it from us and move us out to the Flats.
1980 E. Joubert Long Journey of Poppie Nongena 88The winter was nearly over, but on the Flats the cold persisted.
1986 F. Karodia Daughters of Twilight 57They’ve proclaimed this a white area and they’ve opened an area for Indians up on the flats.
1987 L. Beake Strollers 35The Spider Men! One of the worst gangs on the Flats!
1992 Argus 20 Feb. 15That is all I can remember — getting out and away from the Flats and being poor.
1994 M. Roberts tr. of J.A. Wahlberg’s Trav. Jrnls 1838–56 9Afternoon out with the Dreyers on horseback to the Flats, where I saw the Secretary Bird for the first time in a wild state.
b. An extensive plain; used as an element in place names.
1837 N. Polson Subaltern’s Sick Leave 128North of the country of the Amakosa Kafirs is an immense extent of undulating downs styled the ‘Bontibok Flats,’ from the number of bonti or blesbok that are found there.
1852 T. Shone Diary. 7 Jan.The news today is that they..have cut the throats of an old man and a boy on Quaga Flats.
1914 C. Pettman Notes on S. Afr. Place Names 36Zoetendal Vlei recalls the wreck of the galiot Zoetendal.., as the Amsterdam Flats, near Port Elizabeth, does that of the Amsterdam in 1817.
1989 P.E. Raper Dict. of Sn Afr. Place Names 102Committees Flats,..Between Breakfast Vlei and the Great Fish River.
Short for the Cape Flats, see Cape Flats.
An extensive plain; used as an element in place names.

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