mens, noun and & interjection

/mens/, /mẽs/
Formerly also mensch.
mense /ˈmensə/; formerly menschen and occasionally menser.
Afrikaans, DutchShow more Afrikaans, earlier Dutch (obsolete) mensch person.
A. noun
1. obsolete.
a. Usually in the plural : Afrikaners. Cf. Christenmensch sense c. See also volk sense 3 b.
1871 J. Mackenzie Ten Yrs N. of Orange River 65‘Menschen’ is used by Dutch colonists of themselves, to the exclusion not only of black people, but of Europeans also.
[1937 B.H. Dicke Bush Speaks 43Why should he, being merely an ‘uitlander,’ be permitted to loot? If one of ‘Onse Mense’ (our people — meaning Transvaal Boers) had been looting, it could be overlooked and forgiven.]
b. A white person. Cf. Christenmensch sense b.
1960 J. Cope Tame Ox 69Mogamat said..: ‘The white people are a lot of ——y swine!’...There were two white people in the room but he was not thinking of them, he was thinking of the ‘mense’ in general...He had a voice for the ‘mense’, a whine; he had a flicker in the eyes for them and a quick touch of his cap as a gesture.
2. Usually in the plural.
a. People, human beings; ordinary people.
1871 [see volk sense 2].
1899 G.H. Russell Under Sjambok 57‘The groote Baas is an Englishman’ came the voice, ‘and I believe him; the Boer menser lie, they all lie, and if the Baas was one I would not do it.’
1913 A.B. Marchand Dirk, S. African 270 (Swart)It was a bitter world and hard to be a mensch.
1955 L.G. Green Karoo 13Mense!’ someone would shout in excitement as the car rumbled up. ‘People!’
1981 C. Barnard in Daily Dispatch 6 July 6Just spend a goodly part of student years stitching up endless scalps, arms or hands..and keep talking to the ‘mense’ at every opportunity.
1990 K. Lemmer in Weekly Mail 30 Mar. 13Local MP’s renamed the roads — after themselves, naturally. The mense, in response, were not just content to paint them out. New names were also painted in.
b. Family members.
1963 A.M. Louw 20 Days 90She had said that her ‘mense’ — her people — had dinner early and that she was usually finished with the washing up by half past seven.
3. Usually in the plural : A term of address.
1982 Pace June 46For all Manana’s tiny prettiness one gets the impression that the matter is unlikely to remain in this unsatisfactory state. Grr, watch it, mense.
1982 Voice 6 June 4It’s only time that will say ‘now I am ready mense to respond positively’.
1985 Vula Oct. 46Please mense respect the message. People risk detention and arrest to get it to you.
1988 Smuts & Alberts Forgotten Highway through Ceres & Bokkeveld 132An old custom from that time of territorial separation survives today: such people, especially in the desolate Karoo, address others as ‘mens’. ‘Sir’, ‘Baas’ or ‘you’ would either be too intimate or too subservient and therefore this extra-ordinary form of address evolved.
B. interjection An exclamation used for emphasis, and equivalent to ‘goodness’.
1986 S. Sepamla Third Generation 8I dared not cross her path because she could lash violently with her ageing tongue. Mense! Mmabatho had a tongue.
A white person.
People, human beings; ordinary people.
Family members.
A term of address.
An exclamation used for emphasis, and equivalent to ‘goodness’.
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