num-num, noun

Forms:
knum-knum, nam-namShow more Also knum-knum, nam-nam, noem-noem, noomnoom.
Plurals:
num-nums, or unchanged.
Origin:
Khoikhoi, SanShow more Khoikhoi !num-!num (cf. San !num berry).
Note:
C.A. Smith postulates that the name is ‘seemingly onomatopoeic, suggestive of the sound made when expressing pleasure at the taste of the fruits’ (Common Names of South African Plants, 1966, p.352).
Any of several spiny evergreen shrubs of the genus Carissa of the Apocynaceae, bearing fragrant white flowers, and fruits of various colours; the edible fruit of these shrubs. See also amatungulu.
1822 W.J. Burchell Trav. I. 192It (sc. the shrub) produces little bunches of small white flowers, which have both the form and the scent of the jasmine, and are succeeded by berries resembling those of the berberry. The Hottentots call this shrub ’Num’num (or Noomnoom, agreeably to English orthography), each syllable preceded by a guttural clap of the tongue.
[1883 M.A. Carey-Hobson Farm in Karoo 141A small branch of singularly thorny bush from which the Hottentot gathered a delicious berry, calling it Mum-mum, a name which they subsequently found was given by the coloured people to more than one edible berry.]
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 343Num-num, (Hot. *num *num, each syllable with an initial click.) Carissa arduina. The common name of shrub and fruit alike, the latter being very small and without any distinctive flavour.
1917 R. Marloth Dict. of Common Names of Plants 62Num’num, Carissa arduina (berries black) and C. ferox (berries red).
a1920 O.E.A. Schreiner From Man to Man (1926) 113The nam-nams and jasmine shrubs made a thick wall on either side. [Note] A shrub with a small edible berry (also ‘num-num’).
1951 N.L. King Tree-Planting 66Carissa bispinosa (Num-num), A spiny shrub with light green leaves and bright red fruits...Carissa edulis (Num-num), A shrub indigenous to S.W. Africa, Bechuanaland and northern Transvaal...Carissa haematocarpa (ferox) (Num-num), Very similar to C. bispinosa. Occurs in karroid scrub in eastern Cape. Bears dark blue or black fruits.
1954 U. Van der Spuy Ornamental Shrubs & Trees 83Carissa grandiflora, Natal Plum, Num-Num or Amatungulu.
1964 A. Rothmann Elephant Shrew 33There are miles and miles of bush, a dense, impenetrable mass of num-num, thorn bushes, ‘taaibos’, gnarled ghwarrie trees.
[1973 O.H. Spohr tr. of F. Krauss’s Trav. Jrnl 59Carissa grandiflora A Dc Arduina E Mey, called knum-knum by the Boers, amatungulu by the Kaffirs, a bush with white sweet smelling flowers and red gooseberry-like berries with a pleasant flavour.]
1976 A.P. Brink Instant in Wind 93Thickets of..horse-piss bush, wild apricot, ghaukum and numnum and dry-my-throat and the ubiquitous euphorbia.
1987 D. Matthee Mulberry Forest (1989) 181In the underbush, forest bramble, cross-berry, turkey-berry and numnum flowered in violet, pink and white.
1988 H. Goosen in S. Afr. Panorama Sept. 45The bushveld pantry is well stocked...According to the season, you can satisfy your hunger with veld fruits such as the medlar, marula, num-num, wild fig, stem fruit and sour plum.
1994 [see matingola].
Any of several spiny evergreen shrubs of the genus Carissa of the Apocynaceae, bearing fragrant white flowers, and fruits of various colours; the edible fruit of these shrubs.

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