mis, noun

Forms:
mest, mistShow more Formerly also mest, mist, miste.
Origin:
Afrikaans, DutchShow more Afrikaans, from Dutch mist manure.
Animal manure (especially cattle manure).
1. Dried manure, used as fuel or as building material. Also attributive. See also Free State coal (Free State adjectival phrase sense 2), kraal manure (kraal noun sense 3 d).
1852 C. Barter Dorp & Veld 51 (Pettman)This evening our fire was of mest or dried cow-dung, which turns to a white ash, gives a great heat, and is no bad substitute for wood.
1864 T. Baines Explor. in S.-W. Afr. 212The sun..heated the dry sandy surface till the barefoot sitters felt it inconveniently...Each of them chose a cake of ‘kraiel mist,’ and turning it up, stood upon its yet moist under-surface.
[1872 C.A. Payton Diamond Diggings 154They are generally particularly averse to collecting dry bullock dung, or ‘mest’ as it is called in Dutch, which makes most excellent fuel.]
1896 R. Wallace Farming Indust. of Cape Col. 482Owing to..the custom..of shutting farm animals in kraal during night, large accumulations of dung..occur...The heaps get dry, and it is the practice to cut the material, which resembles a light fibrous peat and is known as ‘mist’, into slabs 3 to 5 inches thick, and about 16 inches long and 12 broad. In this form it is used for the building of kraal fences or as fuel.
1900 O. Osborne In Land of Boers 187We experienced much difficulty in obtaining water and fuel, being compelled for the latter to rely upon dry cattle manure, ‘mest’.
1910 J. Angove In Early Days 110Besides wood, the boy brought a lot of mest or dry cow-dung.
1925 L.D. Flemming Crop of Chaff 111Digging miste out of the kraal.
1937 S. Cloete Turning Wheels 137As the fire took he added bigger pieces of dung and the sweet, almost invisible smoke of the mis rose in a thick column.
1944 C.R. Prance Under Blue Roof 140Our cuisine was based on ‘mis’ which is cow-dung in brutal English, collected and hand-pressed into cakes by the Native farm-labourers’ womankind.
1958 I. Vaughan Diary 9Here..we burn a strange kind of coal. It is dung...In big squares. It is sheeps and goats dung tramped fast and dug out...It is called mis.
1968 J.T. McNish Rd to El Dorado 76There is the aromatic scent of burning mis in the air, clean and fragrant, and appealing to the senses.
1989 Weekend Post 4 Nov. (Leisure) 4The Free State..was ‘so devoid of wood that “mist fires” [dung fires] are the rule’. This dung was the ‘Free State coal’.
2. Fresh manure used (in various combinations with ash, ox blood, mud, lime, and water) to make composition floors in rural homes, and used subsequently to smear or dress these floors. See also smear.
1896 R. Wallace Farming Indust. of Cape Col. 350The floor must be level and paved with cobble-stones, or formed of some hard, dry material...If built of ‘mist,’ ventilation spaces should be left at the bases of the walls.
1925 P. Smith Little Karoo (1936) 17The floors..she smeared regularly with a mixture of cowdung and ashes called mist. The little house smelt always of mist, of strong black coffee,..and of griddle cakes.
1930 N. Stevenson Farmers of Lekkerbat 17The house..was thatched as the native rondawels were with veld grass, and the floors were made of mist.
1958 I. Vaughan Diary 5Every week the floors are smered [sic] with mis which is cowdung made soft like mud with water. It has a nasty smell.
1963 R. Lewcock Early 19th C. Archit. 160Following traditional Cape practice, such composition floors were sometimes smeared at regular intervals with a mixture of cow dung and water known to the settlers as ‘mist’.
1973 M.A. Cook Cape Kitchen 20When thoroughly dry, the surface was ‘smeared’ with mis, i.e. a mixture of fresh cow-dung and water.
1991 Best of S. Afr. Short Stories (Reader’s Digest Assoc.) 110When quite dry, the floor was smeared — often in traditional, swirling patterns — with mis or ‘mist.., a cattle dung mix which might contain ash, mud, water and blood...Mis was applied as often as necessary to maintain the shiny, impervious surface.
3. combinations
misbredie /-briədi/ [Afrikaans, bredie (see bredie)], see quotation 1966;
miskoek /ˈ-kʊk/, /-kuk/, also mest-kock, plural mest-kocke // [Afrikaans, koek cake], cow-pats; squares of dried dung;
miskruier /-kreɪə(r)/, /-krœɪ-/ [Afrikaans, kruier porter], any of several species of dung-rolling beetles of the family Scarabaeidae;
misrybol /-ˈreɪbɔl/ [Afrikaans, ry (earlier Dutch rij) to ride + bol bulbous root], see quotation 1913;
misvloer /-fluːr/ [Afrikaans, vloer floor], a composition floor made of various mixtures of clay, oxblood, lime, and cattle-dung, and dressed with cattle-dung or oxblood at intervals to restore and coat the surface; cf. dagha noun sense a; also attributive.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 317Mest bredie,..Amarantus Thunbergii, Moq., which grows on manure heaps; a Riversdale name.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 339Misbredie, A name applied to several species of Amaranthus and Chenopodium from the fact that the plants are generally found in sheltered places in kraals where they germinate from seeds contained in the droppings..of animals that fed on the plants. The leaves of nearly all are used for making of a ‘bredie’.
[1810miskoek: G. Barrington Acct of Voy. 332The fuel used by the inhabitants, is the dung of animals collected in the places where their cattle are nightly pent-up...This is dug out in long squares, as turf is cut up from the bogs in the Northern parts of England.]
1824 W.J. Burchell Trav. II. 82The walls of these cattle-pounds, are at many farms here, built entirely of such pieces of manure piled up to dry; and which go by the name of mest-koek (manure-cake).
1937 F.B. Young They Seek a Country 224For the glow of sods from the mest-kock was fading; the night air seeped in to the hearth beneath the wicker door, and it grew mortally cold.
1958 A. Jackson Trader on Veld 38The manure..was periodically cut out with spades in square cakes of about 18 inches. Packed on top of the kraal walls, where it soon dried ready for burning, these cakes were sold..at fourpence each, and were called miskoeke.
1985 L. Sampson in Style Feb. 103I had a stove, but in Fraserberg there was no wood so we had to burn dung pats, you know the miskoek.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 320Mistkruier,..The not inappropriate appellation of the various dung-rolling beetles.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 319Misrijbol,..A variety of Haemanthus, which appears to have received this inelegant appellation because it happens to be in flower just about the time that the mest (manure) is being carted, or in South African English, ‘ridden’ on to the vineyards. The name is also applied to a fragrant Amaryllis.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 339Misrybol,..Amaryllis belladonna..; Haemanthus coccineus...Plants of both species flower (March to April) when the wine farmers commence carting..manure..into the vineyards, whence the vernacular name.
1934 Cape Argus 21 June (Swart)The primitive floor, in most cases a ‘misvloer’.
1949 L.G. Green In Land of Afternoon 144The living room had a misvloer, but the floor of the wagon formed the roof of the room.
1973 M.A. Cook Cape Kitchen 24Note the steep staircase;..the opening above the oven, the high ceiling and the misvloer.
1977 F.G. Butler Karoo Morning 38He was sure that all his guests would sleep comfortably enough on the mis-vloer, which had been smeared with cow-dung the day before ‘to fix the fleas’.
1981 C. Barnard in Daily Dispatch 6 July 6Lino lasts a long time if the floor is flat and hard...In the old days you could have a ‘misvloer’ made of dung, but that’s not so easy to come by these days.
1984 S. Afr. Panorama Feb. 33Parts of the service areas have a traditional misvloer (hardened cow-dung which gives off a sweet odour), and this has been recreated with a natural looking cement.
1988 NELM News (Nat. Eng. Lit. Museum) 12 MayIn the kitchen..the misvloer has been worked with clay and fresh green manure to achieve an authentic colour and texture.
1989 NELM News (Nat. Eng. Lit. Museum) 14 JuneShe is..an expert ‘misvloer’ maker and the kitchen floor is an old-fashioned delight.
1990 Weekend Post 8 Dec. 12Visitors view a short video on Xhosa traditions in a mis-vloer-and-mud hut.
Animal manure (especially cattle manure).
Dried manure, used as fuel or as building material. Also attributive.
Fresh manure used (in various combinations with ash, ox blood, mud, lime, and water) to make composition floors in rural homes, and used subsequently to smear or dress these floors.

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