laager, noun

Forms:
lager, laargerShow more Also lager, and (formerly) laarger, largaar, larger, lawger, leger.
Origin:
South African Dutch, DutchShow more South African Dutch laager, lager (cf. Afrikaans laer), from Dutch lager, leger camp.
I. historical Nineteenth century senses.
1.
a. A defensive encampment surrounded and fortified by wagons lashed or chained together, particularly an encampment of emigrant Boers (see Voortrekker noun sense 1); the fortifying ring of wagons; occasionally with qualifying word, wagon laager. Also attributive, and combination laager-camp (rare).
1834 T.H. Bowker Journal. 29 Dec.About dusk the Kafirs commence taking the Cattle down from the lawger-Camp — which they endeavour to storm by violently driving herds of Cattle down the hill upon the waggons.
1845 W.N. Irwin Echoes of Past (1927) 385Fancy at one Lager (Boers’ Camp) taking away 21,000 sheep.
1877 J. Noble S. Afr. 81The Matabele retired, sweeping away..the whole of the cattle and sheep which the farmers had been unable to get into their ‘laager’.
1879 G.C. Cato Letter. (Killie Campbell Africana Library MS1602b)The Volunteers soon brought the waggons into a Laarger position.
1881 G.F. Austen Diary (1981) 36Today the Boers have increased their force by the addition of about 200 men drawn from the outside Lagers.
1898 B. Mitford Induna’s Wife 1The conical ridge, once crested with fort and waggon laagers..and the stir and hum of troops on hard active service, now desolate and abandoned.
1900 F.D. Baillie Mafeking Diary 280In half an hour all there was left of the laager, which had vexed our eyes and souls so much for long months, was a cloud of dust on the horizon.
1929 D. Reitz Commando 23The veld..was dotted with tents and wagon-lagers.
1949 L.G. Green In Land of Afternoon 127In laager formation, with thorn-bushes packed between the wagons, small bodies of voortrekkers defeated the mass attacks of Zulu impis.
1967 E.M. Slatter My Leaves Are Green 95I have always considered a laager essential when camping in enemy country. The wagons were placed in a circle and chained together with the pole of one thrust in between the wheels of the wagon in front.
1971 Sunday Times 19 Dec. 5A crowd of about 25000 came to the bronze laager at Blood River..the controversial monument of 64 bronze wagons.
1973 J. Meintjes Voortrekkers 77The laager system was still being perfected.
1990 Personality 4 June 42White children may listen enthralled to recordings of how the Trekkers formed a laager for the massacre of the Zulus at Blood River.
1991 G. Zwirn in Settler Vol.65 No.2, 11A laager was an encampment formed by ox-wagons lashed together and drawn end to end, thus making a circle or square for the protection of the people and animals inside.
b. Collectively, the occupants of a fortified encampment.
1851 T. Shone Diary. 17 Jan.I went to Bathurst..about the rations, Mr Currie declares he will give none, untill the whole Larger as enrolled their names.
1877 F. Jeppe Tvl Bk Almanac & Dir. (1976) 36A commandant-General is chosen by the whole laager.
1942 S. Cloete Hill of Doves 19He..had survived the massacre of Uys’s laager by the Zulus.
c. In the adv. phrr. in laager, into laager: in, or into, a defensive and fortified state.
1879 Mrs Hutchinson In Tents in Tvl 48In the event of an attack, the inhabitants would have to ‘go into laager’ as they call it.
1882 J. Nixon Among Boers 92They drew their waggons into ‘laager’.
1900 F.D. Baillie Mafeking Diary 35Six hundred Boers were in laager.
1953 B. Fuller Call Back Yesterday 15It was believed that..some 40,000 Natives would join M’Pefu. So most of the whites gathered at agreed spots and there went into laager.
1974 Sunday Times 24 Nov. 2The consular corps..representing 13 foreign countries in Luanda, is preparing to go into laager if civil war comes.
1977 S. Afr. Panorama Nov. 19Bowker designed the town with a hexagonal space in the centre..where the inhabitants could go into laager to defend themselves.
d. A convoy of wagons, of a number large enough to form a defensive encampment if necessary.
1900 W.S. Churchill London to Ladysmith 452The great white tilted waggons of the various laagers filed along the road.
1900 P.J. Du Toit Diary (1974) 18Sure enough there is a big laager moving slowly towards the beleaguered camp with a mounted troop leading the advance.
1902 D. Van Warmelo On Commando 93It took our little lager nearly all day to reach the plateau.
1933 W.H.S. Bell Bygone Days 118Women and children had preferred..to accompany the commandos and..lived in nomadic laagers.
e. Special Combinations and phrases
cattle laager, an encampment used for the safeguarding of cattle in time of war;
||vroue laager /ˈfrəʊə-/ [Afrikaans vroue women] or women’s laager, an encampment in which women and other non-combatants live during times of war.
1901 P.J. Du Toit Diary (1974) 37An unexpected attack was made on the women’s laager, about 37 waggons with families captured, besides large flocks of cattle and some prisoners.
1902 D. Van Warmelo On Commando 174The others might have been saved if the women’s lager had not impeded their flight.
1929 D. Reitz Commando 184The women’s laager consisted of some fifty wagons and carts, with over two hundred women and children, the collective non-combatant population of the district.
1949 O. Walker Proud Zulu (1951) 199Several new charges made against the cattle laager defences won another portion of it for the Zulus.
1982 Sunday Times 16 May 22The commando had two laagers — the ‘vroue laager’ consisting of women, children and those too old or infirm to fight, and the ‘perde commando’, the fighting laager.
2. transferred sense. Any fortified place, either of a permanent nature (in which residents of a district customarily gather for safety in time of war) or of a temporary nature (in which groups of people shelter on a short-term basis).
[1846 Natal Witness 11 Dec. 1These people were compelled, for several years, to remain concentrated in encampments, or ‘legers’.]
1850 R.G.G. Cumming Hunter’s Life I. 202Their tents and waggons were drawn up on every side of the farm-house...The Boers informed me that all their countrymen, and also the Griquas, were thus packed together in ‘lagers’, or encampments.
1851 N.J. Merriman Cape Jrnls (1957) 151At the last play 300 souls were gathered on the premises of Mr Dell — men, women, and children, of all ages, races and colours. It is one of the largest laagers in Albany.
1851 J.F. Churchill Diary. (Killie Campbell Africana Library MS37) 29 JuneThe larger which was erected at the time of the Caffre alarm is still ready for any emergency mounted with two pieces of Cannon.
1852 M.B. Hudson S. Afr. Frontier Life 233Many families congregate together on one farm, and drawing their wagons up into the most defensible position form what is termed ‘a Laager’. This colonial expression comprehends any description of camp, formed either for defensive or military purposes.
1856 F.P. Fleming Sn Afr. 98This farm, during the war, was formed into a ‘largaar,’ or place of rendezvous, for the burghers of the surrounding district.
1882 S. Heckford Lady Trader in Tvl 85A great outbreak of the Kaffirs was close to hand, and..all who did not wish to be murdered had best go into lagers.
1882 C. Du Val With Show through Sn Afr. I. 206The laager in the town still stands, its loopholed walls and sentry-boxes giving evidence of the scare that must have been felt.
1902 G.M. Theal Beginning of S. Afr. Hist. 269The invaders constructed a rough lager or enclosure of bushes and earth, within which they attempted to defend themselves.
1903 E.F. Knight S. Afr. after War 35The men of the Essex Regiment succeeded in hauling up two 15-pounder guns, which harassed the Boer laagers and could have driven the enemy out of Colesberg itself had it not been out of the question to shell our own town.
1923 G.H. Nicholls Bayete! 191In all the smaller centres the people were rushing into lager.
1942 Cape Times in J. Crwys-Williams S. Afr. Despatches (1989) 282We formed a laager at about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. We had more than a dozen tanks, a number of 25-pounders and two dozen armoured cars in the laager.
1971 H. Zeederberg Veld Express 82One of the main camps (they soon developed into ‘laagers’) with a six-feet high thorn enclosure, was established about twenty miles from the Umzingwani River.
1973 E. Prov. Herald 9 Feb.The farmhouse had formed a valuable laager and refuge for other neighbouring members of the Bowker family during these Kaffir Wars, as it was best suited for protection purposes.
II. Modern figurative senses.
3. Any more or less circular arrangement of objects or persons, especially one intended to form a barrier; the area enclosed by this. Also attributive.
1910 J. Buchan Prester John 94My laager of barrels was intact.
1971 J.A. Brown Return 179About a hundred oxen were breaking out of the circling laager of thornbush.
1974 J. McClure Gooseberry Fool (1976) 190Parties of intrepid, elderly shoppers..built laagers of parcels around them as if anticipating an attack by the Zulu waiters.
1976 M. Tholo in C. Hermer Diary of Maria Tholo (1980) 112The police..collect everybody they meet..and take them towards Nyanga East where there are bushes and then they form what the Voortrekkers called a laager with the boys in the middle. They either set dogs on them or beat them up.
1978 S. Afr. Digest 19 Oct. 19South Africa has a word for it — laager housing...The managing director..told The Citizen that simplex or laager housing had got off to a bad start...Laager living was a single-level ground floor development.
1987 Uniform 7 Apr. 2In the centre of the laager lies a small pool. The pool is situated near an open air pub.
1987 Style Mar. 44Outside, beyond the bookies’ lazy lager, a tombola barrel waits for offerings from the unlucky.
1991 Weekly Mail 24 May 11They had been thrown out of their classes..to make way for..riot police apparently lurking in the blockhouses that make up the campus. Inside the concrete laager a..character called Viljoen..was waiting for us.
1993 Motorist 1st Quarter 15Bush was cleared, vehicles parked to form a laager, a generator was kicked into action.
4. Usually in a political context, and often attributive.
a. Allusively, isolationist thinking or intransigence in groupings, attitudes, or policies, particularly as found among right-wing Afrikaners, and in the South African polity during the era of apartheid. Cf. boma noun1 sense 4.
1939 [see jabroer].
1940 Forum 8 June 3General Smuts appeals to us to drop our political differences and form laager against the common foe.
1962 L. Gandar in J. Crwys-Williams S. Afr. Despatches (1989) 342The next state of emergency will be the time, and there will surely be another state of emergency...When it comes..the White population of South Africa will go streaming into the Nationalist laager, stripped of the power of resistance.
1971 S. Lenkoe in Post 15 Aug. 5 (letter)To say that Black consciousness is a ‘laager’ and an ‘anti-whitism’ movement is utter rubbish.
1971 Rand Daily Mail 18 Feb.The reaction..one would expect of..authoritarian bigots, in whom years of laager worship have..bred a pathological fear of foreigners.
1972 Sunday Times 5 Mar. 3A gulf is developing between the party’s verligtes and verkramptes over whether the party should close or open their ranks to ensure survival. The more purposeful..favour a ‘closing the laager’ move.
1973 Cape Times 16 June 10We should use an Order of Service which is not in danger of driving people into one laager or another.
1975 Sunday Times 27 July 20Even the laager has a worm eating at its heart. Afrikaans books and plays are being banned.
1977 World 13 Oct. 5If white South Africa withdraws into the laager during the coming elections, the country is likely to drift into a Rhodesian-type situation, with confrontation and isolation.
1981 Guardian Weekly (U.K.) 23 Aug. 1People in laagers can’t make U turns.
1982 Drum Oct. 105Now that he has come out of the laager, Ds Smit says he can talk boldly about injustices like the Mixed Marriages Act.
1986 Economist (U.K.) 14 June 15The laager men on South Africa’s far right..will feel nothing from sanctions beyond a mild thickening of the skin.
1987 Frontline Aug.Sept. 25Fissures within even the Afrikaans-speaking population..make it very hard for the regime to follow a defiant ‘laager’ strategy.
1988 Sunday Times 10 Apr. 18Government is still seen as something that is run for Afrikaners by Afrikaners...English speakers were invited into the laager...But, once inside, many resent having been treated like bywoners.
1991 J. Kane-Berman in Sunday Times 10 Feb. 13Ernie Wentzel and Laurie Schlemmer and I decided to liberate ourselves from the liberal laager.
1991 G.J. Church in Time 22 July 13Some analysts suspect that..sanctions..might have produced a laager backlash.
1992 R.H. Du Pre Making of Racial Conflict 162Because the Afrikaner could not withdraw into the 19th century, he now forms a 20th century laager (a political attitude of isolationism against a hostile environment).
1992 H. Young in Guardian Weekly 2 Oct. 12After four decades in the laager, the whites now spectacularly failing to run this country do crave the assistance of the outside world.
1993 M. Shaik in Weekly Mail & Guardian 29 Oct. 2Bashing the police force pushes the hardliners into the laager, while the good people leave the force.
b. In the phr. laager mentality, an attitude of isolationism and intransigence born of fear or anger.
1958 Times Lit. Suppl. (U.K.) 14 Feb. 87That the leaders of the Nationalist Party have created a ‘laager’ mentality and hate all opponents of apartheid is a fact.
1963 J. Sinclair in Black Sash Oct.Nov. 28We have had to contend with fear and the ‘White laager mentality’ of the public.
1970 Evening Post 8 JuneIn the victory of the verligte..strain in Afrikaner thinking,..some observers have claimed to detect that South Africa is shedding the laager mentality.
1977 D. Owen in Cape Times 14 Apr. 14If we drive the South Africans into a total laager mentality we could force one of the most right wing and loathsome regimes to develop.
1983 A.P. Brink Mapmakers 139The Afrikaner continued to feel threatened. Once again the ‘laager mentality’ came to the fore, asserting itself in the sad saga of repressive legislation which has come to characterize the regime.
1984 W. Greenberg in Frontline May 44They were told that racial identity could be preserved without the laager mentality.
1991 G.J. Church in Time 22 July 13It had been widely forecast that the embargo would provoke a laager (circling the wagons) mentality among whites, a nose-thumbing determination to defy world opinion.
1993 B. Mahabir in Sunday Times 10 Oct. 18One can safely conclude that most Afrikaners will not go along with the laager mentality of the right wing.
5. A group of volkspele dancers.
1974 S. Afr. Panorama Nov. 19The National Council for Folk Singing and Dancing chose 36 ‘volkspelers’ (folk dancers) from different ‘laers’ (laagers) to accompany the overseas dancers and perform with them.
A defensive encampment surrounded and fortified by wagons lashed or chained together, particularly an encampment of emigrant Boers (see Voortrekkernoun1); the fortifying ring of wagons; occasionally with qualifying word, wagon laager.
Collectively, the occupants of a fortified encampment.
In the adv. phrr. in laager, into laager: in, or into, a defensive and fortified state.
A convoy of wagons, of a number large enough to form a defensive encampment if necessary.
Any fortified place, either of a permanent nature (in which residents of a district customarily gather for safety in time of war) or of a temporary nature (in which groups of people shelter on a short-term basis).
Any more or less circular arrangement of objects or persons, especially one intended to form a barrier; the area enclosed by this. Also attributive.
Allusively, isolationist thinking or intransigence in groupings, attitudes, or policies, particularly as found among right-wing Afrikaners, and in the South African polity during the era of apartheid.
an attitude of isolationism and intransigence born of fear or anger.
A group of volkspele dancers.
Derivatives:
Hence (all modern nonce uses) laagerism noun, the manifestation of an insular or intransigent attitude; laageritis noun, a ‘disease’ characterized by insularity or intransigence; laagerize transitive verb, to cause (a person, persons, or organization) to become insular and intransigent; so laagerizing verbal noun.
1975 Sunday Times 20 Apr. 16Unlike RAU and Stellenbosch — which, by opening the academic doors..to Black post-graduate students, have traded in the symbolic wa (sc. wagon)..— Tuks continues to suffer from an advanced case of laageritis.
1977 Sunday Times 29 May 16It will ‘laagerise’ the whites (indeed, Mr Mondale has already strengthened the NP by enabling Mr Vorster to corral his dissident verligtes).
1987 Frontline Feb. 29The obvious effect would be another boost to the laagerising of South Africa and the general sense of polecattery.
1989 Style Dec. 151Botha..underwent all the regular conditioning and was exposed to all the laagerisms of any Vrystaat Afrikaner boy.

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