kapok, noun

Forms:
capoc, kapockShow more Also capoc, kapock, kappoc, kappock.
Origin:
South African Dutch, MalayShow more South African Dutch, adaptation of and transferred use of Malay kapuq the tree Ceiba pentandra.
1. The downy, cotton-like hairs encasing the seeds of all shrubs of the genus Eriocephalus of the Asteraceae. Also attributive. Cf. wild kapok (see wild sense a).
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 250Cotton-wool is spoken of among the Dutch as kapok, as is also the woolly material which encloses the seed of a Karoo bush — Eriocephalus umbellatus.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 278Kapok, Originally derived from the Malay word ‘Kapuk’ for the Kapokboom. To-day applied to the material derived from various indigenous species of Eriocephalus.
1972 M.R. Levyns in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. VI. 296The woolly appearance of the fruiting heads gave rise to the name ‘kapok’.
1988 M. Branch Explore Cape Flora 17The wild rosemary or ‘kapok’ bush has fluffy seeds that are spread by the wind and collected by birds and mice to line their nests.
2. combinations
kapok bird [translation of South African Dutch kapokvoël], a tiny bird, Anthroscopus minutus, which builds nests of down-like materials; kapokvoël;
kapokblom /-blɔm/ [Afrikaans, blom flower], the plant Lanaria lanata, which has fine woolly hairs covering its stem and inflorescence;
kapokboom /-buəm/ [Afrikaans, boom tree] the large tree Ceiba pentandra, or any tree bearing the white, woolly hairs known as ‘kapok’;
kapokbos /-bɔs/ [Afrikaans, bos bush], the shrub Eriocephalus; also kapokbossie /-bɔsi/ [see -ie];
kapokvoël /-fʊəl/, /-fuəl/, formerly also kapokvogel [Afrikaans, voël bird], kapok bird; also kapokvoëltjie /-fʊəlki/, /-fuəlci/, formerly kapokvogeltje [see -ie].
1795 C.R. Hopson tr. of C.P. Thunberg’s Trav. I. 136The name of Kapock-bird was given to a very small bird, that forms its nest (which is as curious as it is beautiful, and is of the thickness of a coarse worsted stocking) from the down (pappus eriocephali) of the wild rosemary-tree (wilde rosmaryn).
1890 A. Martin Home Life 252Even prettier and more wonderfully made is the nest of the Kapok bird, a little creature resembling a tom-tit. The material used in the construction of this small domicile is a kind of wild cotton, well named by the Boers Kapok (snow).
1972 M.R. Levyns in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. VI. 296Kapokblom..is one of the many plants encouraged to flower by veld-burning...Kapokblom is a name also applied to Eriospermum burchellii, better known as beesklou(tjie).
c1808 C. von Linné System of Nat. Hist. VIII. 429They (sc. the colonists) denominate all plants that bear a down capoc-boschje, capoc-boom, down-tree or down-shrub.
1948 H.V. Morton In Search of S. Afr. 257There is the Kapokbos, which in seed-time sheds soft, fluffy wool.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 278Kapokbossie, A name applied to all species of Eriocephalus on account of the white woolly-hairy involucres which first suggested to the early colonists the ‘kapok’ obtained from the fruit of the Kapokboom.
1983 M. Du Plessis State of Fear 74Could smell the fynbos too—..kapokbos.
1984 S. Afr. Panorama July 48Bits of woolly material from dry protea flowers and kapokbossies (Eriocephalus species).
1987 M. Poland Train to Doringbult 55At the edge of the culvert kapokbos flowered, the frosting of white down lying in drifts.
1988 Le Roux & Schelpe Namaqualand: S. Afr. Wild Flower Guide I. 166Eriocephalus ericoides, Kapokbos...The fruits are covered with long white hairs. There are about 26 species of Eriocephalus in Southern Africa.
c1808 C. von Linné System of Nat. Hist. VIII. 429The African Warbler. The colonists at the Cape give the name of capoc-vogel, down-bird, to all birds who build their nests with the down of plants.
1822 W.J. Burchell Trav. I. 214The Capoc vogel (cotton bird) so called on account of its curious bottle shaped nest, built of the cotton like down of certain plants; its manners and singing very much resemble those of the common wren: and a kind of finch, of a ferrugioneous brown colour, having a white collar and black head.
1883 M.A. Carey-Hobson Farm in Karoo 235Do you see that tiny plain-looking bird? That is the ‘Kappock Vogel;’ it makes the cosiest nest that you can possibly imagine, and as white as the hoar frost, after which it is named.
1896 J. Wood in Scientific African Mar. 76Kapokvogel, the ingenious constructor of a wonderful nest.
1913 D. Fairbridge Piet of Italy 150A silence broken only by...the pee-eep of a kapok-vogel as he whirred through the bushes in his search for fragments of wool left by passing sheep on the wacht-een-beetje thorns.
1914 W.C. Scully Lodges in Wilderness 22The ‘kapok vogeltje,’ no bigger than a wren, twittered at us from his seat of cunning on the outside of the simulated snowball which is his nest.
1923 Haagner & Ivy Sketches of S. Afr. Bird-Life 131Those dainty little birds, called Kappoc-vogel (meaning cotton-wool bird) by the farmers, build a neatly woven nest of the downy seed of plants (in sheep districts wool is utilised).
[1933 J. Juta Look Out for Ostriches 34One day on the flats I found the beautifully made nest of one of the tit family called Kapokvoël in Afrikaans.]
1936 E.L. Gill First Guide to S. Afr. Birds 39Penduline Tit, Minute Tit, kapokvoël...This tiny bird is found..over practically the whole country, but not as a rule in the moister districts.
1973 Beeton & Dorner in Eng. Usage in Sn Afr. Vol.4 No.1, 73Kapokvöel,..(Anthoscopus minuta) alt: Cape penduline tit.
The downy, cotton-like hairs encasing the seeds of all shrubs of the genus Eriocephalus of the Asteraceae. Also attributive.

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17951988