Dutch, AfrikaansShow more From Dutch schoft three hours’ work, shift, quarter of a day; hence each of the day’s meals; or from schaften to eat. (This sense does not exist in Afrikaans.) See also folk etymology, at quotation 1993.
Food; a meal. Also attributive.
Cf. Scottish English ‘scaff’.
1855J.W. ColensoTen Weeks in Natal 54The plate would be open; the meat and other scoff (food), which the Kafirs are so fond of, would be within his reach.
a1862J. AyliffJrnl of ‘Harry Hastings’ (1963) 48I had written down some sentences...One was ‘Is this good to eat?’ and I found that Mr. Carnal had written it down ‘good for skof’.
1877Lady BarkerYr’s Hsekeeping 314At last it became time for ‘scoff’, and they all retired to partake of that dainty.
1885Lady BellairsTvl at War 170The native messengers sent in that direction had to take with them as much scoff — biscuit and biltong in this case — as they could conveniently carry.
1901R. RankinSubaltern’s Lett. to Wife (1930) 100Food, with the colonials, was always ‘skoff’, a malingerer was never anything but a ‘skrimshanker’.
1908D. BlackburnLeaven 193Will you go to Johannesburg and work on a mine? Plenty puza, plenty skoff and five sovereigns a month.
1936H.F. TrewBotha Treks 109Our mess man..instead of packing our extra mess stores in the scoff box, had filled it with packets of German black lead.
1949H.C. BosmanCold Stone Jug (1969) 133Of course, you are used to having skoff in only the best hotels, where you tips the waiter ten bob.
1955L.G. GreenKaroo 96Where does that familiar South African word ‘skoff’ come from? Some say it was brought on shore three centuries ago by Dutch sailors who spoke of ‘schaften’ — to take the noon meal. Others think it arose on the veld. The Afrikaans dictionary gives skof as the equivalent of lap, stage or trek. There would be food at the end of the skof, and skoff is the anglicised form.
1977W. Steenkamp inCape Times 5 Dec. 13Grubb Minor sank back into his seat, grumbling about lousy poets who didn’t know that ‘scoff’ meant food where he, Grubb Minor, came [from].
1990Weekend Mail 13 July 5What definitely is true is: woe unto the maid who eats an apple which little Thabo was to take in his skaf tin (lunch pack) to school.
1993Fly Paper (S. Afr. Airforce Assoc.) Feb. 20Scoff. You have most likely heard this word which is considered rather a vulgar term for food. Its origin is interesting. During the Anglo-Boer War the rations of bully beef and biscuits came from England, and when the boxes were sent off to the various units, they were consigned to the Senior Commissioned Officer which, when abbreviated, resulted in S.C.OFF, hence the troops associated it with food.
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