lappie, noun

Also lappy, and (formerly) lapje.
Afrikaans, DutchShow more Afrikaans (earlier Dutch lapje), (small) rag or cloth, lap + -ie.
a. A rag or cloth; a small piece of fabric or patchwork (cf. sense 2); lap sense 2. See also jammerlappie.
c1892 J. Widdicombe 14 Yrs in Basutoland 106I kept them rolled up in a lappie (old piece of rag).
1899 S.T. Plaatje Boer War Diary (1973) 50I sent back to them St. Leger’s cream coloured lappie.
1908 J.H. Drummond Diary. 7 Nov.This evening we got a lappy at the end of a pi[e]ce of cotton and frightened people..but they thought it a huge joke when they found out.
1913 J.J. Doke Secret City 255‘Pas op, Johannes!’ she cried, mopping her face with a lapje, ‘how you do frighten me’.
1925 E. Prov. Herald 10 July 5Did she say anything about putting this money in a lappie and wearing it round your neck?
1926 E. Lewis Mantis 208Pouring out a saucerful of water and using his handkerchief for a ‘lappie’ as he called it, he cleaned the cup.
1935 P. Smith Platkops Children 22Rubbin’ the schoolroom floor with a terpintiny lapje an’ a bottle that had water in it, to make it shine.
1937 S. Cloete Turning Wheels 253‘Ach’, she sighed, ‘to think that Gert Kleinhouse, whose nose I used to wipe with a lappie, has verneuked me out of a lovely little pig’.
1939 S. Cloete Watch for Dawn 325It was a beautiful little dress..and Kaspar never gave back the lappie in which it was wrapped.
1941 M.G. Gilbert Informant, Cape TownEverybody sitting hunched at their tables dressed in peculiar clothes & with old lappies or bits of string tying up their hair.
1970 Cape Times 16 Sept. 7There had been ‘dramatic evidence about the finding of the lappie and the hair stuck in the middle’.
1970 L. Du Toit Informant, BloemfonteinI had to get a lappie to wipe up the milk which I had messed in the kitchen.
1978 Sunday Times 5 Nov. (Mag. Sect.) 5I was cured of a headache with a lappie on my forehead soaked in buchu and vinegar.
1982 Sunday Times 28 Feb. (Mag. Sect.) 5Mrs Hough used 3420 ‘lappies’ to make the rosetted quilt.
1989 Informant, JohannesburgLook at this cloth, I washed it this morning and now it looks like a lappie; I’ll have to wash it again.
b. figurative. Anything resembling a piece of rag or patchwork.
1955 B.B. Burnett Anglicans in Natal 21On the small lappies around the lonely homesteads of the Dutch pastoralists, the cultivation of the soil began for the first time.
1977 T. Shearing in Fair Lady 16 Feb. 23In the farming world wet lappies abound, Every Friday they come to town.
1990 S. Maxwell Informant, GrahamstownThose milk skins in coffee, I call them ‘lappies’.
c. comb.
lappie-legs, used to designate (one with) an un-coordinated gait, or very thin or gangly legs;
||lappie-pop [Afrikaans, pop doll], a rag doll;
||lappieskombers [Afrikaans, kombers blanket, cover], a patchwork quilt; also figurative;
||lappies smous [Afrikaans, smous see smous noun], a rag man.
1973 Informant, GrahamstownThat girl walks as though she’s got real lappie-legs!
1977 F.G. Butler Karoo Morning 182He was growing tall and rangy..and his socks were usually round his ankles. He was nicknamed ‘Sigaret-beentjies’ or ‘Lappy-legs’.
1935 P. Smith Platkops Children 111Dinka’s brought her piccanin, Dill the coffee-kettle, Light has brought her lapje-pop.
1957 L.G. Green Beyond City Lights 41There is also a decorative lappieskombers (patchwork quilt) in the museum which shows how the women spent their evenings.
1990 Sunday Times 4 Mar. 25The policy of protection through division is still strong in the NP philosphy and practice...It envisages a future of a lappieskombers of black, white and khaki (a colour coding for the so-called open group) with the white sector small and threatened.
1989 Grocott’s Mail 10 Mar. 7 (letter)I have seen the local shopkeeper stand hand-in-pockets..all because an out of town ‘lappies smous’ has been allowed to open a ‘store’ on the Church Square.
d. With defining words denoting a specific use for the cloth or rag:
koerant-lappie [Afrikaans, koerant newspaper], a cloth used as a cover to prevent soiling from newsprint;
vet lappie [Afrikaans, vet grease], a greased or oiled rag loaded into the barrel of a gun and rammed home with the bullet.
1978 Sunday Times 3 Sept. (Mag. Sect.) 5A rectangular piece of material which in black ink bore the legend: Koerant-lappie...It keeps the ink off the sheets and the frown off matron’s face.
1949 J. Rose Innes in F.G. Butler When Boys Were Men (1969) 272The favourite firearm was a heavy double-barrelled piece, right barrel shot, left barrel bullet, and each charge had to be rammed home, accompanied by its wad, or its oil rag (vet lappie).
1987 G. Tylden in Africana Notes & News Vol.12 No.6, 206Rifles like the Baker nearly always have some form of flap backsight..or hinged lid closing a small box cut in the right side of the butt for holding greased patches and ‘vet lappies’ loaded with the bullet.
2. noncount. Fabric, cloth; lap sense 1. Also attributive.
1900 B.M. Hicks Cape as I Found It 179The dishcloth is a great institution in the Boer household. A dirty bit of ‘lapje’ (rag) it is.
1973 Grocott’s Mail 9 Nov. 3Think of that ‘lappy’ nightcap with a tassel and those nightshirts below the knees.
1982 Drum Mar. 100‘Back in your homeland and village the girls are topless every day.’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but they wear a little piece of lappie in front’.
1986 L.B. Hall in Style July 97As she stoops, her lappie hat falls to the ground.
A rag or cloth; a small piece of fabric or patchwork (cf. 2); lap2.
Anything resembling a piece of rag or patchwork.
Fabric, cloth; lap1. Also attributive.
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