DSAE test file

kaffir, noun and adjective

Forms:
cafar, cafferShow more Also with initial capital, and (formerly) cafar, caffer, caffir, caffre, caffree, cafir, cafre, kaffer, kaffre, kaffree, kafir, kafre.
Origin:
Arabic, Dutch, AfrikaansShow more Adaptation of Arabic kafir infidel. The form kaffer is influenced by Dutch (and subsequently Afrikaans).
offensive in all senses and combinations
A. noun
1. Obsolete except in historical contexts Usually with initial capital.
a. A black African inhabitant of the region now covered by KwaZulu-Natal and the north-eastern parts of the Eastern Cape, i.e. a member of any of the Nguni groups which in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries became consolidated into the Xhosa and Zulu peoples.
1589 R. Hakluyt Voy. II. 242The Captaine of this castle (sc. Mozambique) hath certaine voyages to this Cafraria..to..trade with the Cafars.
1949 H.E. Hockly Story of Brit. Settlers of 1820 9The most formidable native tribes to oppose the onward march of the Europeans were..the Kaffirs, a branch of the mighty Bantu race which was slowly advancing southwards down the eastern side of Africa.
b. Xhosa noun sense 1 a.
1776 F. Masson in Phil. Trans. of Royal Soc. LXVI. 197We were now on the borders of a powerful nation of Hottentots called Caffers.
1949 J. Mockford Golden Land 77The migration of many became a flight from the marauding impis of the Zulus until the Xosas, the Kafirs, clashed with the Whiteman in the eastern regions of the Cape.
c. Xhosa noun sense 1 b.
1836 R. Godlonton Introductory Remarks to Narr. of Irruption 4We distinctly saw the dark cloud gathering over the Kafir country, but with that exception there was abundant cause for congratulation and thankfulness.
1972 Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. VI. 263In more recent history the ‘Zulus’ were distinguished from the ‘Kaffirs’. The word ‘cafres’..was applied to the people now known as the Xhosas, who are composed of several tribes or tribelets including the Mpondo (Pondos), the Mfengu (Fingos) and many others.
d. comb.
Kaffirland obs. exc. historical, any or all of the territories on the eastern seaboard of Southern Africa (to the east of the Great Fish River) inhabited by people of the Nguni group, particularly those parts inhabited by Xhosas.
1786 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. II. 146These rivers..probably run all together through the country called Caffer-land.
1956 F.C. Metrowich Valiant but Once 96The patrol..saw a large body of Natives driving stolen cattle across the Kap River along the well-trodden route to Kaffirland.
2. A black person. a. Obsolete except in historical contexts. Any black inhabitant of South Africa. b. Derogatory and offensive. An insulting and contemptuous term for a black African, or occasionally for any black person. Also attributive.
Note:
Originally simply descriptive of an ethnic group, ‘kaffir’ is now insulting and abusive, and its use is actionable (see crimen injuria).
1607 W. Keeling in R. Raven-Hart Before Van Riebeeck (1967) 36Wee found many of the Saldanians alias Cafares at our landinge place to speake wth us although wee could not onderstand one an other.
1993 Weekly Mail & Guardian 29 Oct. 2He said black personnel were still called ‘kaffirs’ behind closed doors.
c. Figurative, and in idiomatic expressions, including:
kaffir appointment, an appointment for which one does not trouble to be punctual; cf. African time;
to go to the kaffirs, to deteriorate, ‘to go to the dogs’;
kaffer op sy plek /ˌkafər ɔp seɪ ˈplɛk/ [Afrikaans, ‘kaffir in his place’], an expression used to ridicule the racist attitude which demands white dominance over blacks, and which expects subservient behaviour from black people; also attributive;
to work like a kaffir, to work extremely hard, especially at manual labour.
1835 T.H. Bowker Journal. 25 Mar.I’m affraid they’ll have the Kafirs in England ere long — heavy taxes and light Meals will make a Kaffir of almost any man.
1990 C. Leonard in Weekly Mail 2 Nov. 29The place was going to the kaffirs. It was in a bad condition, I tell you.
d. With distinguishing epithet:
mission kaffir, missionary kaffir obsolete, a black person taught by missionaries, or having been under their influence; a westernized black person; see also school adjective sense 1;
white kaffir, see as a main entry.
1875 D. Leslie Among Zulus 145Missionary Kaffirs’ have become a byword and a reproach, and are considered the greatest rascals in the colony.
1908 D. Blackburn Leaven 87Mr Hyslop suggested that a mission kafir having been taught to work more intelligently was surely worth more than a raw kafir.
e. combinations All obsolete or obsolescent because of their offensive nature. With the following meanings (which often overlap): i. Used among the black peoples of southern Africa. ii. Especially in the names of flora and fauna: indigenous, wild. iii. derogatory. Inferior, worthy of contempt.
kaffir almanac [see quotation 1913], either of two species of lily, Haemanthus katherinae or H. magnificus;
kaffir brandy, a potent liquor prepared for sale to black people; cf. kaffir whisky below;
kaffir buck, see quotation;
kaffir cabbage [see quotation 1966], the plant Cleome gynandra;
kaffir cat, the African wild cat Felis lybica of the Felidae, with a tawny, striped coat; also called wild cat (see wild sense b);
kaffir cattle, (a) historical, a breed of indigenous African cattle with distinctive horns and colouring; cf. Nguni noun sense 3; (b) derogatory, inferior cattle of mixed breed;
kaffir cherry, the plant Gardenia neuberia;
kaffir chestnut, wild chestnut (sense (a) see wild sense a);
kaffir coffee, the plant Phoenix reclinata of the Arecaceae;
kaffir-college derogatory, a segregated college for blacks under apartheid legislation; see also bush college (bush adjective1 sense 2);
kaffir cow, a cow of the type called kaffir cattle (see above);
kaffir crane, a former name for the mahem, Balearica regulorum;
kaffir date, kaffir plum (see below);
kaffir doctor, witchdoctor;
kaffir fair obsolete except in historical contexts; during the nineteenth century, a gathering to enable trade and barter between the colonists and the Xhosa; also attributive;
kaffir farming, a form of sub-tenancy outlawed in 1913, whereby white land-owners leased land to African squatters in return for labour (see also second quotation 1989);
kaffir fever Pathology, an unidentified febrile illness;
kaffir fig-tree, see quotation;
kaffir finch, kaffir fink [Englished forms of South African Dutch kaffervink], (a) bishop-bird; (b) sakabula;
kaffir fowl derogatory, a scraggy domestic fowl of indeterminate breed;
kaffir god, (a) Hottentot(s) god (offensive), see Hottentot noun sense 6 a; (b) a flower (the precise species is unclear); its fruit;
kaffir hen, kaffir fowl (see above);
kaffir hoe, a simple iron hoe;
||kaffirhond /-ˌhɔnt/ [Afrikaans hond dog], kaffir dog;
kaffir honeysuckle, the tecoma, Tecomaria capensis;
kaffir horse, Cape horse (see Cape sense 2 a);
kaffir hut, (a) a circular wattle-and-daub hut with a conical thatched roof (cf. rondavel), or any traditionally-constructed African dwelling; (b) the dome-shaped Eastern Cape succulent Euphorbia meloformis;
Kaffir Jack, an Eastern Cape name for the common hornbill;
kaffir lily, (a) the water-loving perennial herb Schizostylis coccinea of the Iridaceae, with narrow leaves and slender stalks bearing deep pink flowers; (b) the perennial forest plant Clivia miniata of the Amaryllidaceae, cultivated for its large, showy, orange flowers; (c) ifafa lily;
kaffir-lover derogatory, kaffirboetie;
kaffir-maid [Englished form of Afrikaans kaffermeid; cf. maid] derogatory, kaffermeid;
kaffirmanna, babala;
kaffir mealie, kaboe mealie;
kaffir melon, tsamma;
kaffir mushroom, ikhowe;
kaffir orange, klapper noun1 sense 1;
kaffir ox, an ox of the type called kaffir cattle (see above);
kaffir path, a rural footpath or track;
kaffir pear, wild pear sense (b), see wild sense a;
kaffir pick, a simple home-made pick;
kaffir pillow, a small wooden neck-rest, used while sleeping;
kaffir plum, the evergreen forest tree Harpephyllum caffrum, its edible fruit, or its reddish timber; also called wild plum (sense (a) see wild sense a); also attributive;
kaffir pock Pathology, see quotations;
kaffir poison, (a) Bushman’s poison; (b) Pathology, see quotation 1968;
kaffir police historical, any of several black police corps established during the nineteenth century (the first of which was founded in 1835);
kaffir pot, potjie;
kaffir potato, the Natal plant Coleus esculentus, and its edible tuber;
kaffir print, German print (see German);
kaffir rail, the bird Rallus caerulescens;
kaffir rope, monkey-rope;
kaffir scimitar, kaffir plum (see above);
kaffir sheep, any hardy cross-bred sheep;
kaffir slangwortel /-ˈslaŋvɔrtəl/, formerly also kaffir schlangenwortel [Afrikaans slangwortel (from Dutch schlangenwortel), slang snake + wortel root; see quotation 1860], the shrub Polygala serpentaria; its thick, woody root;
kaffir sorrel, the plant Pelargonium peltatum; also called pelargonium;
kaffir store, a rural trading store carrying a wide variety of inexpensive merchandise for a black clientele;
kaffir tax, hut tax;
kaffir taxi derogatory, (a) a motor vehicle used as a taxi by black people; (b) transferred sense, an old or run-down motor car or bus;
kaffir tea, (the dried leaves of) any of several plants used for brewing medicinal teas, especially (a) Helichrysum nudifolium and Athrixia phylicoides, but also (b) shrubs of the genus Aspalathus (see rooibos sense 1 a); the tea made from these plants; see also Bushman’s tea;
kaffir-thorn, the tree Lycium tetrandrum;
kaffir thread, animal sinew used as thread;
kaffir tobacco, dagga noun2 sense 1;
kaffir tou, monkey-rope;
kaffir trade, the sale of manufactured goods to black people, or barter with black people; latterly called African trade, black trade; also attributive; hence kaffir trader noun phrase, a merchant, often in remote districts, selling primarily to black people;
kaffir tree, kaffirboom;
kaffir truck derogatory historical, cheap (often inferior) merchandise intended for sale or barter to black people; also attributive;
Kaffir war, (a) Frontier war, see Frontier sense b; (b) rare, any war between blacks and whites (see quotation 1939);
kaffir watermelon, tsamma;
kaffir whisky, a type of liquor prepared for sale to black people; cf. kaffir brandy above;
kaffir work, kaffir’s work derogatory, an offensive term for manual labour, or for any task considered by some to be too menial for whites to perform.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 240Kaffir almanac, So called in Natal, because the Zulus sow their mealies when this plant is in flower.
1988 D. Owen in Laband & Haswell Pietermaritzburg 1838–1988 129Relief work, because it entailed manual labour — ‘kaffir work’ — remained extremely unpopular.
3. Obsolete except in historical contexts Usually with initial capital.a. The Xhosa language. b. rare Any (or all) of the Nguni languages (see Nguni noun sense 2 a). c. Any (or all) of the Sintu (Bantu) languages (see Sintu, Bantu adjective sense 1). Also attributive.
1779 W. Paterson in J.B. Bullock Peddie — Settlers’ Outpost (c1960) 5A pleasant river, called in the Caffre language, Mugu Ranie.
1979 A. Gordon-Brown Settlers’ Press 56The long-expected Kafir grammar by the Revd W.B. Boyce was at once set up and was printed in time for Shaw to comment in the preface, dated 5 February 1834, that a few obvious errors had escaped correction.
d. With distinguishing epithet: mine-kaffir: a former name for fanakalo. Also attributive.
1947 O. Walker in Vandag Vol.1 No.9, 25They live amid a welter of tongues — Bantu, mine-kaffir, Afrikaans and pidgin English.
1972 L.G. Green When Journey’s Over 123Fanagalo has many names. Known in its early days as Kitchen Kaffir or Mine Kaffir [etc.].
4. obsolete. The black eagle, Aquila verreauxii.
c1808 C. von Linné System of Nat. Hist. VIII. 25The Caffrarian Eagle...The caffre is as large as the golden eagle; the claws short, but not so much hooked...The plumage is entirely black, except a few brownish reflections on the smaller wing-coverts towards the pinions. Its colour, and being found only in Caffraria, made Vaillant call it Caffre.
1867 E.L. Layard Birds of S. Afr. 12Aquila Verreauxii...Le Vaillant evidently founded his ‘Caffre’ upon this species.
5. As in general English: an infidel or unbeliever.
Note:
A relatively rare sense in South African English.
1827 T. Philipps Scenes & Occurrences 116They call themselves Amakosæ or the tribe of Kousa. Caffer is an Arabian word for infidel or bad man; and they themselves frequently so apply it.
1989 Frontline Mar. 13Kafir, Arabic for a non-believer in Islam, applies to every non-Muslim, including Messrs Terre’Blanche and Treurnicht.
6.
a. [Probably used in this sense because the word was strongly associated with South Africa; in the context of the stock exchange, perhaps first used in the name Kaffir Circus, see quotation 1948 at sense b.] Either attributive, or plural : South African mining shares traded on the London Stock Exchange.
1889 Rialto 23 Mar. (Farmer)Tintos climbed to 12¼, and even Kaffirs raised their sickly heads.
1983 J.A. Brown White Locusts 315The total effect has been a loss of confidence in the Kaffir market. The familiar cry has gone up: ‘Johannesburg is a dangerous investment.’
b. Special Combinations
Kaffir Circus obs. exc. historical, (a) the market on the London Stock Exchange where South African mining shares were traded; (b) rare, a name given to South African mining magnates residing in London.
1896 M. Donovan Kaffir Circus 96A big boom is on in the Kaffir Circus, and Laure’s shares are worth £15000.
1987 G. Viney Col. Houses 142The arrival of all these colonials was greeted with a certain amount of scorn..and their frantic social efforts caused them to be collectively and slightingly referred to as ‘the Kaffir Circus’.
7. Obsolete except in historical contexts In Cape Town: an armed, uniformed slave with various official duties, such as that of exciseman, peace-keeper, policeman, and executioner.
1925 H.J. Mandelbrote tr. of O.F. Mentzel’s Descr. of Cape of G.H. II. 124Slaves..called ‘Kaffirs’ are armed with a sword with iron hilt, carrying a ‘palang’ or heavy club, wear a grey uniform consisting of a short coat with blue lapels, a waistcoat and trousers, and receive some petty perquisites as well.
1975 D.H. Strutt Clothing Fashions 143Some of the more trusted male slaves..employed as assistants to the police..given a certain amount of authority and armed with a short sword, were called Kaffirs.
B. adjective
1. rare. Of or pertaining to the black peoples of South Africa.
1925 D. Kidd Essential Kafir p.vThe people have forgotten Umkulunkulu’s praise-giving names, and so can hardly worship him in any sense which is adequately Kafir.
2. derogatory. With negative connotations:
a. In the noun phrase kaffir bargain, a spurious bargain.
1934 N. Giles Ridge of White Waters 266‘Another kaffir bargain!’ said Sir Alfred wearily.
1979 T. Pakenham Boer War (1982) 487This was the short-cut he (sc. Milner) dreaded: some kind of botched up settlement, a ‘Kaffir bargain’, he called it.
b. Bad, inferior, unreliable; clumsy, inept.
1948 O. Walker Kaffirs Are Lively 27Kaffir..is, in fact, an adjective of contempt in the ordinary speech of the South African when he speaks of a ‘Kaffir’ trick, or ‘Kaffir’ work.
1961 Spectator (U.K.) 14 July 53‘That was a real Kaffir shot.’..This..was the first time I had come across Kaffir, adj.: bad, clumsy, inferior..etc.
c. In the phr. to go kaffir, to go native (see Native adjective sense 3).
1956 J. Chatterton Return of Drums 36He could not forgive those who hinted that he chose to lead this solitary life because he had gone ‘kaffir’, because he had taken to Native women.
A black African inhabitant of the region now covered by KwaZulu-Natal and the north-eastern parts of the Eastern Cape, i.e. a member of any of the Nguni groups which in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries became consolidated into the Xhosa and Zulu peoples.
Xhosanoun1 a.
Xhosanoun1 b.
Any black inhabitant of South Africa.
An insulting and contemptuous term for a black African, or occasionally for any black person. Also attributive.
The Xhosa language.
Any (or all) of the Nguni languages (see Nguninoun2 a).
Any (or all) of the Sintu (Bantu) languages (see Sintu, Bantuadjective1). Also attributive.
a former name for fanakalo. Also attributive.
The black eagle, Aquila verreauxii.
As in general English: an infidel or unbeliever.
South African mining shares traded on the London Stock Exchange.
an armed, uniformed slave with various official duties, such as that of exciseman, peace-keeper, policeman, and executioner.
Of or pertaining to the black peoples of South Africa.
a spurious bargain.
Bad, inferior, unreliable; clumsy, inept.
to go nativeNativeadjective3.
Derivatives:
Hence kaffirdom noun; kaffirhood noun; kaffirish adjective, see quotation 1941; kaffirize transitive verb rare, also kaffirized participial adjective, of words, to render into a Xhosa or Zulu form; of people, to make inferior or subservient.
1858 B. Nicholson in J. Maclean Compendium of Kafir Laws (1906) 171A Kafirized form of some tribal name given by the Hottentots.
1949 O. Walker Proud Zulu (1951) 250Natal’s determined policy of Kafirising the Zulu Nation and making of them a nation of servants and plantation workers.