gemsbok, noun

Forms:
gemsboc, gemsbockShow more Also gemsboc, gemsbock, gemsboke, gemse-bok, gensbok, ghemsbok, hemps-bôk, jems bok.
Plurals:
unchanged, gemsboks, or (rare) gemsboke, gemsbokke /ˈxemsˌbɔkə/.
Origin:
South African Dutch, DutchShow more South African Dutch, transferred use of Dutch gems chamois + bok (see bok).
1. The large, strikingly-patterned antelope Oryx gazella of the Bovidae, with long, straight, very sharp horns that incline slightly backwards; gemsbuck; kukama. Also attributive. Cf. bastard gemsbok.
1777 G. Forster Voy. round World I. 84The Egyptian antelope..is here (sc. at the Cape) called gems-bock or chamois.
1786 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. II. 217Another kind of gazel at the Cape, is known by the name of gemse-bok, or chamois.
1790 W. Paterson Narr. of Four Journeys 53This day we shot at several of a species of Antelope, with long sharp strait horns, called Gems Bock.
1824 W.J. Burchell Trav. II. 23A herd of antelopes of the species known among the boors by the misapplied name of Gemsbok was observed at a distance.
1824 W.J. Burchell Trav. II. 99Here our dogs caught..a young gemsbok (ghemsbok): the latter was not bigger than a domestic goat.
1827 G. Thompson Trav. 254I observed several gemsboks. This is a beautiful and noble-looking antelope. His long, straight, sharp horns incline a little backward, and..the animal can use them with formidable effect in self-defence.
1838 J.E. Alexander Exped. into Int. I. 278A troop of gemsboks appeared, the antagonists of lions, with their long straight horns, like that of the fabled unicorn.
1887 A.A. Anderson 25 Yrs in Waggon I. 234Gemsbok..are pretty animals, rather larger than a zebra, nearly the colour of a donkey, with black marks down the back and along the flanks, whitish legs marked with black band, light face with black down the front.
1896 R. Wallace Farming Indust. of Cape Col. 244The gemsbok antelope, Oryx gazella, belongs almost exclusively to the deserts of South West Africa.
1914 W.C. Scully Lodges in Wilderness 230Take..the term ‘gemsbok’, as applied to the oryx; what could be more inappropriate? ‘Gemsbok’ means ‘Chamois’ — and we have in South Africa an antelope which is a chamois to all intents and purposes, but which is called a ‘klipspringer.’
1936 C. Birkby Thirstland Treks 268Through the long months of drought the gemsbok had followed their noses north, seeking tsamma melons and springs that had not dried to mud.
1977 K.F.R. Budack in A. Traill Khoisan Ling. Studies 3 19The Topnaar, apart from an ‘assegai’, also used a gemsbok horn for the spearing of fish.
1988 A. Hall-Martin et al. Kaokoveld 38Gemsbok behaviour and physiology is well adapted to survival in harsh desert areas.
1991 Personality 5 Aug. 27Half-starved gemsbok, their skin hanging over their ribs, because they’ve been unable to adapt to feeding in captivity.
2. combinations
gemsbok cucumber, gemsbok komkommer /kɔmˈkɔmə(r)/ [Afrikaans, komkommer cucumber; see quotation 1991], the plant Acanthosicyos naudinianus of the Cucurbitacea; its fruit;
gemsbok grass, either of two species of grass of the Poaceae, Stipagrostis uniplumis (subfamily Arundinoideae) or Eragrostis pallens (subfamily Chloridoideae);
gemsbok tail grass, Stipagrostis hochstetterana.
a1936 E.N. Marais Rd to Waterberg (1972) 89The green and yellow prickly gemsbok cucumber — singular in its absence from South African fruit markets and a distinct loss to our palates.
1970 P.V. Tobias in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. II. 618Prominent among the water-rich plants are the tsamma melon.., and the gemsbok cucumber.
1991 D.M.C. Fourie in Philatelic BulletinGemsbok cucumber..grows in deep sandy soil and can be eaten raw, but is usually roasted in hot ashes for several hours...The fruits are relished by many animals and in areas where gemsbok occur, they form an important part of that antelope’s diet.
1992 Getaway Apr. 41Other important water-carrying plants are the gemsbok cucumber (Acanthosicyos naudinianus), [etc.].
1970 B. Maguire in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. II. 610The yellowish oval melons of Citrullus naudianus (the so-called wild cucumber or gemsbok-komkommer),..are covered with short, conical protuberances.
1986 Motorist 1st Quarter 36The gemsbok komkommer..[is a] main source of water for all the animals of the area as, even when it rains, the few millimetres of standing water in the pans usually evaporates within a week.
1973 J. Cope Alley Cat 57It had rained weeks before and there were patches of red-dark gemsbokgrass in full seed like blood blots against the ash-grey dust.
1989 J. du P. Bothma Game Ranch Management 602Plant species of the late successional stages...Eragrostis pallens (gemsbok grass).
1988 A. Hall-Martin et al. Kaokoveld 7The ephemeral grasses of the plains..dominate a sparse wispy grassland...A few perennials like the gemsbok tail grass (Stipagrostis hochstetterana)..also occur.
The large, strikingly-patterned antelope Oryx gazella of the Bovidae, with long, straight, very sharp horns that incline slightly backwards; gemsbuck; kukama. Also attributive.

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17771992