outspan, verb

DutchShow more Calque formed on Dutch uitspan, uit out, from + spannen to yoke, hitch.
In all senses also uitspan verb. Cf. inspan, off-saddle verb.
There is some overlap in the intransitive senses.
a. intransitive. obsolete. To unyoke or unharness oxen or other draught animals and allow them to rest; to span out, see span verb sense 3 a.
1801 in G.M. Theal Rec. of Cape Col. (1899) IV. 361Arrived at noon at the pasture place of Esterhuizen, where we outspanned and being provided with fresh relays we went on.
1816 G. Barker Journal. 15 Feb.About 10 out-spanned soon after which several men belong [sic] to Bethelsdorp..came up and spanned out likewise.
1832 Graham’s Town Jrnl 9 Mar. 41The Undersigned..Hereby warns all Persons from Shooting, Hunting, Fishing, Out Spanning, Cutting Wood.
1852 A.W. Cole Cape & Kafirs 134At about ten we ‘out-span’ — that is, take out the oxen and turn them loose to graze.
1871 W.G. Atherstone in A.M.L. Robinson Sel. Articles from Cape Monthly Mag. (1978) 94We outspanned and halted.
1886 G.A. Farini Through Kalahari Desert 11We overtook Mr. Caldecott’s turn-out and the coaches, both of which had outspanned for a change of ‘horses.’
1900 H. Butterworth Trav. Tales 57To outspan is to unyoke oxen — hence to encamp.
1912 W. Westrup Land of To-Morrow 66They got here two whole hours ago, so as to be able to outspan, and give the horses a rest.
1931 Nat. Geog. Mag. Apr. 469‘At breakfast time you’d outspan and —’ ‘Unhitch, you mean?’ ‘Ay, that’s it, outspan.’
1951 R. Griffiths Grey about Flame 161Outspan, hobble the mules and then get on with it.
b. transitive. To unyoke or unharness (oxen or other draught animals) from a wagon or plough; rare, to unhitch (a waggon) from its draught animals.
Quotation 1962 may be intransitive.
1815 G. Barker Journal. 4 Aug.We..were oblidged to outspan our oxen before we could ascend the sand hills.
[a1823 J. Ewart Jrnl (1970) 62We..unyoked our oxen (or as the Boors call it outspan’d) which is usualy done twice or thrice a day.., to allow the animals to feed and refresh themselves.]
1833 Graham’s Town Jrnl 3 Jan. 1All cattle strayed or outspanned over any part of the property of Frederick Korsten, Esq. will be forthwith impounded.
1864 F. Galton Vacation Tourists III. 167To see a farmer outspan and turn the team of active little beasts loose on the boundless veld to amuse themselves for an hour or two..would astonish him a little.
1878 T.J. Lucas Camp Life & Sport 45At night the oxen were outspanned and allowed to scatter whither they would in search of grass.
1895 A.B. Balfour 1200 Miles in Waggon 71One gets out at the end by a high step, or when the oxen are outspanned (unharnessed), by a ladder.
1926 P.W. Laidler Tavern of Ocean 184Riebeeck Square was originally Boeren Plein, or Farmer’s Plain, where the countrymen outspanned their wagons.
1934 B.I. Buchanan Pioneer Days 29The wagons were drawn up beside the road, and the oxen outspanned..and allowed to graze for a while.
1962 F.C. Metrowich Scotty Smith 130‘The horses are tired,’ Herman replied. ‘I think we should outspan and rest them for a while.’
1976 V. Rosenberg Sunflower 13They outspanned their oxen, securing them with a yoke hewn especially for this purpose and a peg driven into the ground.
1980 A.J. Blignaut Dead End Rd 90I was still outspanning the predikant’s team.
1990 M.M. Hacksley (tr. of E. Van Heerden) in Lynx 182At every turn-off..they had outspanned the donkeys, hobbled them and let them graze on the little patch of government servitude on either side of the road.
2. intransitive.
a. In historical contexts. To rest or camp at the side of the road while travelling by wagon; to span out, see span verb sense 3 b. b. transferred sense and figurative. To break a journey; to relax, take a break.
1811 J.G. Cuyler in G.M. Theal Rec. of Cape Col. (1901) VIII. 91The rovers passed Scheepers at night who lay close to the road outspanned with his waggon.
1820 T. Philipps Philipps, 1820 Settler (1960) 50We struck our tents after Breakfast, and out spanned as they call it, at two o’clock.
1822 W.J. Burchell Trav. I. 196A little before dark, the drivers wanted to outspan for the night.
1827 T. Philipps Scenes & Occurrences 15The twosome proposed that they should accompany us in our sporting expedition, and that we should all agree to outspan at Assagai Bush.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 152Rested two hours and a half in the heat of the day; and outspanned again at sunset.
1838 T. Shone Diary. 17 JulyWe..proceeded to Town and out span’d at my Son’s place.
1849 N.J. Merriman Cape Jrnls (1957) 19We set off..for Graham’s Town, which we reached on the sixth day, having outspanned for the Sunday by Bushman’s River.
[a1862 J. Ayliff Jrnl of ‘Harry Hastings’ (1963) 77‘You go in then you ask for permission to outspaan — that’s Dutch’ said he ‘it means that you want to stop there to trade’.]
1866 E.L. Price Jrnls (1956) 348We generally outspan of a morning about sunrise, when the little folks are waking after a long night’s rest.
1870 R. Ridgill in A.M.L. Robinson Sel. Articles from Cape Monthly Mag. (1978) 23It was not until we outspanned for the night, near Stellenbosch, that the last farewell was spoken.
1878 Argus 13 Apr.This was the half-way place, and we ‘outspanned’ here all day.
1883 M.A. Carey-Hobson Farm in Karoo 140It is customary in the country,..when travellers wish to outspan upon a farm to ask the farmer’s permission to do so.
1883 O.E.A. Schreiner Story of Afr. Farm 246We always travelled all night, and used to ‘outspan’ for five or six hours in the heat of the day to rest.
1885 H. Rider Haggard King Solomon’s Mines 16He outspanned alongside of me for a fortnight to rest his oxen.
1910 J. Buchan Prester John 49We got to Umvelos’ after midday, and outspanned for our three weeks’ work.
1911 L. Cohen Reminisc. of Kimberley 399Another Boer wanted to know, when he heard that a steamship service was proposed to be established between the Cape and Natal, where the vessels outspanned during the night.
1934 B.I. Buchanan Pioneer Days 169We travelled gaily for two hours, then out-spanned for a rest.
1941 C. Birkby Springbok Victory 174On the fifth day..the head of the column outspanned just short of Jijiga. And all that night the lights of the brigade’s trucks played in the sky as the Springboks came up.
1966 F.G. Butler S. of Zambesi 21‘When I was a boy’, he said, ‘we always outspanned for the night, here, among these trees’.
1970 C.B. Wood Informant, Johannesburg‘Outspan’ (relax) and rest.
1971 H. Zeederberg Veld Express 24Gone were the days when they could ‘outspan’ at the home of a farmer or relative, and spend a few days on a hunting expedition.
1977 Fugard & Devenish Guest 51We outspanned and put up our tents there where the kraal is now.
To unyoke or unharness oxen or other draught animals and allow them to rest; to span out, see spanverb3 a.
To unyoke or unharness (oxen or other draught animals) from a wagon or plough; rare, to unhitch (a waggon) from its draught animals.
To rest or camp at the side of the road while travelling by wagon; to span out, see spanverb3 b.
To break a journey; to relax, take a break.
Hence outspanned participial adjective, unyoked, unharnessed, unhitched; encamped; outspanning verbal noun, the unyoking of draught animals; the breaking of a journey; also attributive.
1841 B. Shaw Memorials 220The other side of the river is the proper outspanning or halting-place, and there you ought to go.
1852 M.B. Hudson S. Afr. Frontier Life 169While resting the night at our outspanning station, A farmer came up to report depredation Of twelve hundred sheep.
1866 E.L. Price Jrnls (1956) 165We..have never had very long outspannings and have always been late at night..before we outspanned.
1872 in A.M.L. Robinson Sel. Articles from Cape Monthly Mag. (1978) 280‘Outspanning’ and ‘inspanning’ include by one expression what an English groom would need two or three orders to perform, since harnessing the cattle does not necessarily imply attaching them to the vehicle they are intended to draw.
1876 T. Stubbs Reminiscences. 25On our first outspanning I would find him out, and ask him what time he thought we ought to proceed.
1884 E.V.C. Promised Land 32I will not give an account of each day’s inspanning and outspanning, and our shooting between Newcastle and Lydenburg.
1893 Month Feb. 197He was standing by the out-spanned wagon.
1894 H. Nisbet Bush Girl’s Romance p.iiiI do not think we forget these ‘out-spannings’ while we are driving our cattle in other directions.
1899 Strand Mag. (U.K.) Mar. 270[He] pointed to the outspanned bullocks.
c1900 S. Lyall Reminiscences. (Killie Campbell Africana Library MS138)Here first I saw the outspanning and inspanning oxen and cooking by the side of the wagons.
1918 H. Moore Land of Good Hope 32You come to one of the public ‘out spanning stations’ which are arranged at convenient distances.
1924 L. Cohen Reminisc. of Jhb. 16There were the usual inspannings and outspannings, during which operations the passengers snatched a hasty, coarse breakfast.
1971 H. Zeederberg Veld Express 32Outspanned wagons, tents and ‘shanties’ of all description.
1977 F.G. Butler Karoo Morning 11A trek by oxwagon — the whole slow ritual of inspanning and outspanning.
Entry Navigation

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary