lead, verb transitive

Origin:
South African Dutch, AfrikaansShow more Calqued on South African Dutch water lij (subsequently Afrikaans water lei) to irrigate.
In the phrase to lead water (occasionally to lead out water): to irrigate; to obtain household water by bringing it from its source through furrows constructed for this purpose. See also sloot sense 1.
Note:
Not exclusively South African English, but differing from general usage in that it is commonly used without a prepositional phrase.
1827 G. Thompson Trav. 27I observed with regret the impracticability of leading out the water for irrigating the adjoining lands by dams and ditches, — the usual and only method of cultivating the soil in the interior of Southern Africa.
1832 Graham’s Town Jrnl 12 Oct. 160I sent her home to lead water into the garden; she was alone.
1846 J. Collett Diary. II. 8 Oct.Interesting day all hands busy leading Water.
1894 E. Glanville Fair Colonist 125The man looked up a minute, then resumed his work of leading water to the roots of each tree.
1913 J.J. Doke Secret City 244A native boy was leading water, and the smell of dampness and fresh, sweet life was wonderfully refreshing.
1939 S. Cloete Watch for Dawn 150On the day of the fight Gerrit Bezuidenhout had been leading water.
1958 A. Jackson Trader on Veld 24Presently we started a so called garden, fencing in about two acres of ground and leading water from our fountain.
1960 G. Lister Reminisc. 29We loved having tea there and watching Van Eeden ‘leading’ water along the numerous furrows in the garden.
1977 Fair Lady 25 May 107Outside she found Eli leading water in a walled lucerne land near some old pear trees.
1990 R. Malan My Traitor’s Heart 32Once a week, water came running down the roadside furrows, and my granny would lead it into her backyard to irrigate her corn, tomatoes, and peaches.
to irrigate; to obtain household water by bringing it from its source through furrows constructed for this purpose.

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18271990