hour, noun

English, DutchShow more Special use of general English hour (a measure of time), influenced by Dutch uur a measure of distance.
obs. except in historical contexts
A measurement of distance: the distance which can be covered in an hour.
1785 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. II. 81This place is situated at the distance of two hours (uurs) from that which we had just quitted.
1792 E. Riou tr. of J. Van Reenen’s Jrnl of Journey from Cape of G.H. p.xiiThroughout the journal the word hour is to be considered as distance, and not time. Travellers at the Cape of Good Hope reckon distance by hours: one hour being supposed equal to about a league.
1798 S.H. Wilcocke tr. of J.S. Stavorinus’s Voy. to E. Indies I. 58A Dutch mile, which they in general call an hour, is about three miles and a half English.
1801 W. Somerville Narr. of E. Cape Frontier (1979) 64From Commando fonteyn we proceeded to a place near the banks of the Sack River distance 9 Hours.
1809 R. Collins in G.M. Theal Rec. of Cape Col. (1900) VII. 136The distance should be laid down by miles, to put an end to the absurd practice of measuring by hours.
1838 J.E. Alexander Exped. into Int. I. 29They have perhaps to ride a distance of fifty or sixty hours, and the same distance back on bringing an offender to justice.
a1875 T. Baines Jrnl of Res. (1964) II. 85Informed them that it was customary to obtain a passport from the Field-Cornet, who lived three hours on horseback — eighteen miles — distant.
1886 W.H. Middleton Map of OFS (Bloemfontein Cathedral Archives) (legend)This map of the Orange Free State Republic..is based on one I published in 1880, and [I] have kept the mode of reckoning by hours, (not miles) as it is the custom of the country to which it relates.
1893 Brown’s S. Afr. 15The reply to inquiries regarding distance will invariably be so many ‘hours’, the Dutchman having no knowledge of miles and measuring all distances by the time it will take him to ride them. The hour may be reckoned as a little more than 6 miles.
1916 J.M. Orpen Reminisc. (1964) 302This [land] included a piece which I was required to lay out in the form of a square, of which each side was to be an ‘hour on horseback’ in length, around Makawaanstad, with that kraal as centre.
1920 K.M. Jeffreys tr. of Memorandum of Commissary J.A. de Mist 231Take the average breadth to be twenty hours, and we find that the district contains more or less 2,500 hours of land.
c1936 S. & E. Afr. Yr Bk & Guide 26In the 18th century the ‘hour’ was sometimes used as an actual measure of distance, approximating two miles.
1955 L.G. Green Karoo 76Those were the days when karoo distances were reckoned in terms of hours on horseback.
the distance which can be covered in an hour.

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary