pont, noun

Origin:
Dutch, LatinShow more Dutch, ferry-boat, pontoon (from Latin ponto punt, pontoon, floating bridge, from pons bridge).
1. A flat-bottomed ferry-boat for crossing rivers, worked on cables or ropes.
1775 F. Masson in Philosophical Trans. of Royal Soc. LXVI. 279Oct 6th, we came to the pont or ferry.
1827 G. Thompson Trav. 307Ponts, or floating bridges, are used with great success on the Berg and Breede Rivers.
1835 A. Steedman Wanderings I. 92Bending our course..to the Pont, a raft constructed for the purpose of conveying waggons across the river, and continuing our journey until past mid-night, we again uitspanned.
1856 R.E.E. Wilmot Diary (1984) 12Not until an hour had been spent in trying to smoke in the cold wind did we see the pont emerge from the darkness and approach our bank.
1872 C.A. Payton Diamond Diggings 9A little above the ferry is the ‘pont’, an immense flat-bottomed decked boat, for the conveyance of waggons and carts, with horses, mules, or oxen, when the river is so high that the ordinary passage by the ‘drift’, or ford..is not practicable.
1886 G.A. Farini Through Kalahari Desert 8The coach was driven down to the pont (Anglice, ferry, or floating bridge) — a flat bottomed scow, attached by a pulley-block to a wire stretched tightly across the river.
1937 H. Klein Stage Coach Dust 20The pont was so successful that it was used day and night, travellers preferring to pay the toll than go by the longer route.
1955 A. Delius Young Trav. in S. Afr. 153At a river crossing we came to where there were a whole lot of Bantu men singing in deep fine voices as they pulled a car across on a pont (ferry).
1957 L.G. Green Beyond City Lights 232Many a wagon went into the stream, but that was not so serious. When a motor-car slips off the pont, the owner has a great deal more to worry about. One cannot really mourn the passing of the pont.
1961 T.V. Bulpin White Whirlwind 19The pont held 100 men with their impedimenta. It was capable of three trips an hour.
1987 Personality 4 Nov. 29‘It’s a question of developing a knack so that you know how to take the strain of the pulling chain and gauge the movement of the currents rather than brute strength that is needed to pull a pont successfully,’ he tells me.
1991 M. Holmes in E. Prov. Herald 17 May 27Travel via Kei Mouth. The pont at the river mouth operates daily from dawn to dusk. It easily takes a vehicle and trailer or boat and saves several hours of travel.
2. combination
pontman, a ferryman.
1815 A. Plumptre tr. of H. Lichtenstein’s Trav. in Sn Afr. II. 128 (Pettman)We stopped at the house of the ferry-man, or pontman as he is termed.
1931 G. Beet Grand Old Days 13We succeeded in ingratiating ourselves with the overworked pontman so well that we had the pleasure of being ferried across..hours before our turn!
1987 Personality 4 Nov. 30He never learned to swim. ‘It was something I just didn’t think about when I applied for the job as pont man.’
A flat-bottomed ferry-boat for crossing rivers, worked on cables or ropes.

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