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skerm, noun

Forms:
scharem, schermShow more Also scharem, scherm, skarm.
Origin:
Afrikaans, DutchShow more Afrikaans, from Dutch scherm screen, protection.
A screen, barrier, or windbreak, usually of (thorny) branches and brushwood, but sometimes of stones, earth, reeds, or animal skins, and taking various forms.
a. The simple (temporary) dwelling of nomadic (Khoisan) people; a rough sleeping-shelter for travellers.
1835 A. Smith Diary (1940) II. 272Have neither cattle nor chiefs, cut all the hair off, use red clay, have no fixed residences, make skerms under a bush.
1977 F.G. Butler Karoo Morning 203Vagrant Hottentots and rare Bushmen sheltering behind a ‘scherm’ of ashbush; their flesh the colour of dust, they were desolate, resigned.
b. In the wild: a screen or hide for hunters and game-watchers; a protection from wild animals.
1838 J.E. Alexander Exped. into Int. II. 210Three of the party then made a scherm or screen of bushes opposite a pool, where they expected elephants or rhinoceroses to come and drink, and inside the scherm they dug up a hole, the better to conceal themselves.
1957 L.G. Green Beyond City Lights 201They treated the Hollanders kindly, made a skerm to protect them from wild animals at night, put up a mat hut.
c. In an African village: an enclosing fence round a homestead.
1844 J. Backhouse Narr. of Visit 42 (Jeffreys)There is much of a kind of shrubby Asparagus, which is used at Thaba Unchu, for making skerms, shelters, round the huts of the Baralongs.
1970 P.B. Clements in Outpost 43Napier reported that Wilson’s party had passed through several scherms (enclosures) full of women, children and cattle.
d. obs. A large piece of canvas used as a shelter; see also sail sense 1 b.
1894 E. Glanville Fair Colonist 219All hands were intensely busy fixing the scherm or large canvas sheet drawn from the bottom rim of the outer wheels, up over the tent, and out for a space of twelve feet to two trees.
e. historical. A windbreak behind which cooking-fires were tended and food prepared.
1898 W.C. Scully Between Sun & Sand 28Susannah came out of the mat-house and superintended the lighting of a fire by the Hottentot maid in the kitchen scherm.
1963 R. Lewcock Early 19th C. Archit. 137In the small frontier farmhouses cooking was done in the open air, behind a simple screen shelter, or ‘skerm’.
f. obs. A stockade to protect domestic livestock and to prevent animals from straying.
1909 Lady S. Wilson S. Afr. Mem. 312Every evening our animals were put into a ‘skerm’, or high palisade, constructed of branches by the ubiquitous carriers with marvellous rapidity.
1936 C. Birkby Thirstland Treks 283Your camels or your donkeys might scream behind their skerm of thorn boughs in the night at the onslaught of lions.
A screen, barrier, or windbreak, usually of (thorny) branches and brushwood, but sometimes of stones, earth, reeds, or animal skins, and taking various forms.
The simple (temporary) dwelling of nomadic (Khoisan) people; a rough sleeping-shelter for travellers.
a screen or hide for hunters and game-watchers; a protection from wild animals.
an enclosing fence round a homestead.
A large piece of canvas used as a shelter; see also sail1 b.
A windbreak behind which cooking-fires were tended and food prepared.
A stockade to protect domestic livestock and to prevent animals from straying.

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