hands-upper, noun

Also handsapper.
AfrikaansShow more Probably from Afrikaans hensopper, see hensopper.
1. In historical contexts
a. A derogatory term used by the Boers of those who surrendered to the British forces during the Anglo-Boer War; handup, see hands-up; handsopper sense 1; hensopper sense 1 a. Also attributive. Cf. bitter-ender.
1901 in E. Hobhouse Brunt of War (1902) 268The ‘hands uppers’ here in the camp, with the exception of three, have turned British subjects now by promising to take the oath of allegiance; I always bore an ill-feeling towards them, but now I simply loathe them.
1902 E. Hobhouse Brunt of War 38The patriots..felt and expressed contempt, often undeserved, for these neighbours, and nicknamed them ‘hands uppers’.
1902 D. Van Warmelo On Commando 40The name of ‘hands-upper’ was earned by those burghers who of their own free will surrendered to the enemy.
1903 E.F. Knight S. Afr. after War 171It was with joy that the ‘hands-upper’ farmers read of Mr. Chamberlain’s proper treatment of the impudent demands put forward by the irreconcilable section.
1903 E.F. Knight S. Afr. after War 210It was the Boers in the field who in the first place treated the ‘hands-uppers’ as an enemy, and they have themselves to blame if some of these men under so great a provocation offered their services to us as National Scouts.
1913 J. Brandt Petticoat Commando 148There were three kinds of handsuppers; first, men who, through a mistaken sense of duty, surrendered themselves to the enemy, in order to bring the war to a speedy termination;..second, the men who, wearied of the strife, became hopeless and despondent;..and third, the men who, through their lust for gain, fell an easy prey to the temptations offered them.
1941 G.H. Calpin There Are No S. Africans 61The burghers who yielded voluntarily before the end of the war, the handsappers, were treated to £2000000.
1963 A. Keppel-Jones S. Afr.: Short Hist. 138Others who surrendered — ‘hands-uppers’ — thought the continued resistance madness and felt that the ‘bitter-enders’ would be responsible for the ruin of their country.
1965 K. Mackenzie Deserter 100‘And so you are a hands-upper, I suppose, Japie?’ ‘No,’ said Japie indignantly...‘No, I wanted people to stop fighting because they did not like to kill each other and it wasn’t doing any good.’
1974 J.P. Brits Diary of Nat. Scout 3The hands-uppers..were burghers who voluntarily laid down their arms in obedience to Lord Robert’s proclamation of 1 September 1900, and ceased to take any part in the war.
1987 W. Steenkamp Blockhouse 47‘We aren’t hands-uppers like some people.’ ‘No,’ Van As agreed...‘We’re bitter-enders, that’s what we are.’
b. joiner sense 1.
1937 C.R. Prance Tante Rebella’s Saga 35By his breeches and leggings he must be a khaki-Englander; and when he remonstrated in Afrikaans she denounced him as a renegade and ‘hands-upper’ which is even worse.
1941 N. Devitt Concentration Camps 24National Scouts were burghers who, having surrendered to the British, took up arms against their own people at 5s. per day, rations and quarters. There were 5,000 of these men in the field...They were called ‘Hands-uppers’ or ‘Joiners’.
1979 [see Pakenham quot. at joiner sense 1].
2. Figurative and transferred sense. One who changes allegiance for questionable reasons; a fence-sitter; handsopper sense 2; hensopper sense 2.
1941 J.C. Smuts in C. Birkby Springbok VictoryIntroduction, A nation is never proud of its ‘hands-uppers,’ its fence-sitters, its players for safety. We South Africans reserve our respect and pride for the bitter-enders, for those who go all out.
A derogatory term used by the Boers of those who surrendered to the British forces during the Anglo-Boer War; handup, see hands-up; handsopper1; hensopper1 a. Also attributive.
One who changes allegiance for questionable reasons; a fence-sitter; handsopper2; hensopper2.
Entry Navigation

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary