pap, adjective

a. Weak, lacking substance; (of food) soft, tasteless.
1912 H.H. Juta Reminisc. 77Judge: ‘I can read and write and “reken”, but I don’t want to be a schoolmaster, thank you.’ Farmer: ‘No, of course not...But it doesn’t matter: your Dutch is too “pap”.’
1958 L.G. Green S. Afr. Beachcomber 114Snoek is one of the fish which must never be hung up to dry in the moonlight, or it will become pap...Pap snoek is something to be avoided.
1963 S.H. Skaife Naturalist Remembers 17He was investigating a destructive disease of snoek at the time, a disease well known to fishermen because it gives rise to what are known as ‘pap snoek’ — fish that are worthless because of their soft, watery, inedible flesh.
1970 C. Banach Informant, Port ElizabethSeeing that the apple is so pap I will not eat it.
1973 Informant, GeorgeI’ve brought you the black cistern — the white ones are made of such pap plastic these days.
1982 Sunday Times 5 Sept. (Mag. Sect.) 6I find it a bit ‘pap’ as a chip. They’re too soft and airy.
1987 P. Wagener in Grocott’s Mail 28 Apr. 3The NP was too ‘pap’ to govern. Integration was rife in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth where blacks and coloureds were living in white areas.
1991 N.P. Saunders Informant, ScottburghPap — soft or withered or just tired out. ‘Don’t buy those bananas they are pap.’
b. Of persons: physically exhausted, feeble; unassertive, weak; soft, flabby. See also papbroek.
1934 C.P. Swart Supplement to Pettman. 133Pap,..In its adjectival sense ‘soft’, it is steadily gaining ground among English-speaking South Africans and one frequently hears such expressions as: the tennis balls are ‘pap’; the tyres are ‘pap’; I’m feeling ‘pap’ (exhausted).
1970 C. De Villiers Informant, BloemfonteinI am tired and I feel so pap.
1970 M. Dikobe Marabi Dance. 121She looked at George: ‘Men like George are pap.’ She thought of her father, still respected by the Malaitas as their king.
1972 Evening Post 10 June 4There’s another side to the problem of African Widows trying to find work. They’re too pap, washed out, burnt-out. They have lost all incentive. Life’s kicked them so hard they no longer have the initiative.
1973 Informant, GrahamstownThis variety of flu makes people feel pretty pap.
1975 S. Roberts Outside Life’s Feast 27His chest hangs like soft tits in his vest. He is pap. I could easily hit him.
1991 H.C. Watts Informant, Cape TownIn this heat I feel so pap — no energy at all.
c. Of tyres, balls, and other inflated objects: flat, under-inflated.
1934 [see sense b].
1970 M. Burger Informant, PietersburgMy beachball got pap after I kicked it a few times.
1970 E. Lawry Informant, BloemfonteinBefore the tyre was pumped up it was pap (flat, soft).
1987 A.K. Horwitz in New Coin Poetry June 24Life should be a silver Mercedes gliding at all hours in the basin of hills — hard tyres for tarmac, pap ones for mud.
1991 G. Murray Informant, AlbertonMy wheel was pap so I had to push the bike home.
Weak, lacking substance; (of food) soft, tasteless.
physically exhausted, feeble; unassertive, weak; soft, flabby.
flat, under-inflated.
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