gentoo, noun

Forms:
djentoe, jentoeShow more Also djentoe, jentoe, jintoe, jintoo, and with initial capital.
Origin:
Named for the Gentoo, a ship which arrived at Cape Town in the mid-19th century with a group of women passengers who became prostitutes; the countries of origin of the women and the ship, and the circumstances of their arrival at the Cape, are obscure and in dispute (see quotations).
derogatory, slang
Not in polite use In Cape Town: a prostitute; a woman of loose morals. Also attributive.
1934 G.G. Munnik Mem. of Senator 20The British authorities..engaged about forty-six young girls [as servants]..and sent them out to the Cape in an East Indiaman named the Gentoo. On arrival..these girls were hired..in the fashionable suburbs...They..drifted into Cape Town, and there practised the oldest profession in the world...Even now girls who practise the same profession are still known in Cape Town amongst the Malays and coloured people as ‘Gentoos’, and the places where they live are called Gentoo houses.
1946 C.P. Wittstock in E. Partridge Dict. of Underworld (1950) 366Jintoe, probably from a French ship carrying women, which put in at the Cape many years ago.
1952 Drum Nov. 10The word ‘gentoo’ is not one that you will hear used in polite company...In 1846 an American ship called the ‘Gentoo’ was wrecked near Struys Bay. Some of the female survivors trekked to Cape Town and later..followed the world’s oldest profession...It is still the practice to call ladies of easy virtue ‘Gentoos’ after that ill-fated ship’s women-folk.
1958 L.G. Green S. Afr. Beachcomber 80Among the survivors were a number of young servant girls who..soon drifted out of respectable employment...They set up places which became known as ‘Gentoo houses’, with Malay orchestras to provide dance music. To this day a loose girl is called a ‘Gentoo’ by the Cape Malays.
1974 J. Matthews in S. Gray On Edge of World 102‘Hey Maria. You old jentoe!’...Maria, not put out by the slur cast on her character, waved back gaily.
1977 D. Muller Whitey 83A pair of gentoos sat playing a waiting game.., displaying their nylon-clad thighs and frilly slips. One..smiled at him as he passed by.
1983 Informant, Cape TownThat one on the left of the photo — pretty but she’s a bit of a jintoe.
1984 Cape Times 18 Jan. 23A man who called a Brooklyn woman a ‘f...jintoo’ (whore) was yesterday fined R250 (or 100 days).
1988 M. Turner Shipwrecks & Salvage 174Gentoo, American ship...Wrecked on Northumberland Point, Struis Bay..on 29 April 1846 while on a voyage from Calcutta to Boston with a cargo of indigo, shellac, saltpetre and hides...Among the survivors were a number of servant girls who had been engaged by wealthy Cape Town citizens. They soon drifted into prostitution, and to this day prostitutes are called ‘gentoos’ by the Cape Malays.
[1992 Sn Afr.-Irish Studies 2 271In November 1850 the association for the promotion of female emigration sent 46 single Irish women to the Cape on the Gentoo. Their arrival..was followed by a great storm of moral indignation when it was discovered that..the girls had been allowed to mix freely with the men on board and ‘gross improprieties’ had taken place.]
In Cape Town: a prostitute; a woman of loose morals. Also attributive.
Entry Navigation

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary

Senses

19341992