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.
1838 J.E. Alexander Exped. into Int. I. 100The Namaquas put up a scherm, or screen, for us of boughs and mats, and with a fire at our feet, we lay there comfortably.
1864 T. Baines Explor. in S.-W. Afr. 78Making a fire in a small scherm under a group of the largest ‘wagt een beetje’ (wait a bit) thorn trees I had ever seen.
1872 E.J. Dunn in A.M.L. Robinson Sel. Articles from Cape Monthly Mag. (1978) 62The Bushmen scherms, made of stones, still remain, as well as the marks of the bullets on the rocks.
1885 H. Rider Haggard King Solomon’s Mines 53We went to work to build a ‘scherm’...This is done by cutting a quantity of thorn bushes and laying them in the shape of a circular hedge. Then the space enclosed is smoothed, and dry tambouki grass, if obtainable, is made into a bed in the centre, and a fire or fires lighted.
1905 W.H. Tooke in Flint & Gilchrist Science in S. Afr. 95The home of the Bushman is the shady cover of a kameeldoorn, a rough ‘scherm’ of branches and skins on the lee side of a clump of bush, or a crevice or cave in the cliffs overlooking a stream.
1907 W.C. Scully By Veldt & Kopje 221A small hut, or ‘scherm,’ constructed of bushes and fragments of skin, stood before us. It was not so much a hut as a kind of movable screen such as the Hottentots use.
1924 G. Baumann in Baumann & Bright Lost Republic (1940) 103The Chief..received me in his ‘skerm’ in the presence of some of his councillors and one interpreter.
1936 L.G. Green in Best of S. Afr. Short Stories (1991) 163Deep in..the Knysna forests you will find a race of white people more isolated than any other human beings in South Africa...Years ago these People of the Forests dressed in skins and lived in skerms with only three walls.
1948 A.C. White Call of Bushveld 17Better even than a tent or reed hut, is the humble windbreak, with a bed of grass on mother earth, with only the stars above to light the camp, or skerm.
1961 T.V. Bulpin White Whirlwind 55The three men surrounded their sleeping place with a barricade made of branches cut from thorn trees. Inside this ‘scherm’, as it was called, they made themselves comfortable for the night, with their horses tethered beside them.
1973 J. Cope Alley Cat 75Pitjie’s place was not a hut, it was merely a skerm, the rough grass and thorn-bush shelter open on one side and with its back to the wind.
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.
1885 H. Rider Haggard King Solomon’s Mines 56We seized our rifles, and slipping on our veldtschoons,..ran out of the scherm.
1896 H.A. Bryden Tales of S. Afr. 159Here there was good water: the camp could be rendered pretty impregnable by the help of a scherm of thorn-bushes.
1914 W.C. Scully Lodges in Wilderness 62A few shrubs had to be pulled out of the ground and piled in the form of a low, circular fence enclosing a space about six feet in diameter. This is the ‘scherm’ or screen so often used by those who hunt in the desert. Within it the hunter lies prone, fully concealed from any approaching quarry.
1937 J. Stevenson-Hamilton S. Afr. Eden 16The camp was encircled by a dense scherm, or thorn zeriba, as much to keep out dangerous wild animals as hostile human beings.
1939 S. Cloete Watch for Dawn 266The lions were a perpetual menace, necessitating the building of strong skerms each night.
1943 D. Reitz No Outspan 70After sunset lion roared about our skerm.
1949 C. Bullock Rina 43At each new camp it was necessary to build scherms for the donkeys, and for myself and the Natives.
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.
1895 A.B. Balfour 1200 Miles in Waggon 50A scherm (sheltering fence) of reeds, about seven feet high in front, and forming a small courtyard at the entrance of the hut.
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.
1943 D. Reitz No Outspan 155Presently we heard them (sc. the lions) above the pots and the pans in the smaller skerm in which we did our cooking.
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.
1924 E.T. Jollie Real Rhodesia (1971) 188He knows exactly..how to make a ‘scherm’ for the animals, where to build the fire and how to make up soft beds from the grass.
1928 L.P. Greene Adventure Omnibus 99Major and Jim set their camp in better order, building a scherm in which to put their mules at night.
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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