springbok, noun

Forms:
Also spring-boc, spring-bock.
Plurals:
unchanged, springboks, occasionally springbokken.
Origin:
South African Dutch, DutchShow more South African Dutch, from Dutch springen to jump + bok antelope; see quotation 1810.
I. The animal.
1.
a. The gazelle Antidorcas marsupialis of the Bovidae, in colour cinnamon-brown, dark reddish-brown, and white, having long narrow ears, ribbed lyre-shaped horns, and a dorsal fan of long white hairs, and characterized by the high and graceful leaps into the air which it makes when excited or disturbed; pronkbok, see pronk verb sense 1; springbuck; springer sense 1. Also attributive. See also houbok, trekbok (trek sense 12 b).
Note:
South Africa’s national animal.
1775 Phil. Trans. of Royal Soc. LXVI. 283We saw some herds of the spring bocks, a species of antelope.
1777 G. Forster Voy. round World I. 84The spring-bock, a beautiful species, named A. pygargus by Pallas, live in vast herds in the interior parts of Africa.
1786 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. II. 83This animal, which is called by the colonists spring-bok, a term in the Dutch language signifying the leaping or bounding goat.
1795 C.R. Hopson tr. of C.P. Thunberg’s Trav. II. 23The leaping goats (Springboks)..do a great deal of mischief in the wheat-fields.
1810 G. Barrington Acct of Voy. 277The spring-bok is an animal so swift, and with such an elasticity of muscle to facilitate the act of leaping, that the Dutch have given it a name indicative of its motions.
1838 J.E. Alexander Exped. into Int. I. 163I always found plenty of springboks on the plain...Of light and airy form and delicate proportions, its general colour is cinnamon on the back, and the breast and belly white.
1875 J.J. Bisset Sport & War 202The spring-bok is considered the best eating antelope.
1884 B. Adams Narr. (1941) 214During the morning we came across a drove of springbok. In my opinion they are the prettiest species of the deer I ever saw.
1919 M.M. Steyn Diary 274She loaded Osche and myself with almost more than we could carry..including a lot of Springbok biltong.
1934 B.I. Buchanan Pioneer Days 33With wondering admiration, we watched some springbok speed across the veld, clearing trees in their marvellous leaps.
1973 Farmer’s Weekly 9 May 9Springbok, which a decade ago ranged the plains in herds of thousands, are now limited to small groups and individuals on a few farms.
1983 Nat. Geog. Mag. Mar. 375The favorite prey of cheetahs, springbok are among the world’s fastest animals, reaching top speeds of more than 40 miles an hour.
1990 W. Smith Golden Fox 224Mingled with the flocks of merino sheep were vast herds of springbok. These graceful little antelope danced upon the plains like puffs of wind-driven dust. Their delicate bodies were pale cinnamon slashed with bars of chocolate and blazing white.
b. transferred Prison slang.. Alluding to ‘jumping’ (slang for ‘escaping’): an escapee from prison.
1987 S.A. Botha in Frontline Oct.Nov. 15Springbok, escaper.
II. transferred sense Used as a national symbol.
2. Now always with initial capital. Plural Springboks; when used collectively, frequently the Springboks.
a. An amateur sportsman or sportswoman selected to represent South Africa; bok sense 3 b; used collectively, a South African sporting team, especially the national rugby team; cf. the green and gold (see green and gold noun phrase sense b). Also attributive.
1906 S. Afr. News Weekly 3 Oct. 1A crowd of 9,000..accorded the springboks a great reception as they walked on the field.
1908 M.C. Bruce New Tvl 35‘They may not be able to teach us anything,’ wrote an English sporting paper of the Springboks before they had reached England, ‘but they will be content to learn from us.’
c1911 P.W. Day in S. Playne Cape Col. 393When the next visiting team came, in 1903, of the 3 test matches, 1 was won by the South Africans at Newlands, and 2 were drawn...The South African Rugby players then first became known as the Springboks.
1932 Grocott’s Daily Mail 2 Jan. 3It cannot be said that many English rugby critics strongly favour England’s chance against the Springboks on Saturday.
1943 I. Frack S. Afr. Doctor 77The names of at least 20 Springboks are mentioned who have represented this country on the field of sport.
1948 O. Medworth in J. Crwys-Williams S. Afr. Despatches (1989) 294Never have I seen a crowd at a cricket match so charged with excitement...Had the Springboks held their catches, then who knows, they might have been the ones cheered to victory.
a1951 H.C. Bosman Willemsdorp (1977) 18Jack Brummer had never got as far as wearing a Springbok jersey, but he had several times played for his Province.
1960 Natal Mercury 6 Apr. 1Springboks face hostility in U.K. The South African cricket tourists are likely to face a demonstration at London Airport.
1966 Van Heyningen & Berthoud Uys Krige 16The performance of the Springbok teams is almost a barometer of national self-confidence.
1971 Daily Dispatch 17 May 12According to his party’s policy no South African non-White chosen to represent South Africa..can ever be called a Springbok. According to Mr. Waring, the term ‘Springbok’ is reserved for Whites only.
1979 S. Afr. Digest 13 July 19Springbok colours have been awarded to four South African motor sportsmen.
1982 Diamond Fields Advertiser 4 Dec. 8A Springbok aerobatic pilot died on Thursday when his biplane plummetted to the ground during practice for the South African Acrobatic Championship.
1987 L. Nkosi Mating Birds 114At one corner of the shop..two big-shouldered, red-faced Springbok types were arguing about the respective merits of two Rugby players.
c1988 S. Afr. 1987–8: Off. Yrbk (Bureau for Info.) 675The management decided on the name ‘Springbokken’ at the request of the London Press which suggested the South Africans should have a name.
1990 T. Cobbleigh in Sunday Times 16 Dec. 21The four brainy and burly South Africans who helped Oxford overwhelm Cambridge..this week are the latest in a long and noble Springbok contribution to Oxford sport.
1992 F. Keating in Guardian Weekly (U.K.) 9 Oct. 31Rugby is spiritually entwined in the very soul of white South Africa...Clothed in their vestments of green and gold the Springboks are religious icons and totems to the faith.
1992 Guardian Weekly 13 Nov. 31England remain favourites to beat the tourists at Twickenham but any hint of complacency on their part will have been dispelled by the Springboks’ strong, stylish performance.
b. Obs. exc. historical. A nickname for a South African soldier during the two world wars; collectively, the Union Defence Force (see U.D.F. noun1). Also attributive. Cf. bokkie sense 3.
1916 Daily Mail (U.K.) in J. Crwys-Williams S. Afr. Despatches (1989) 218The South Africans..waited till the Germans were close up. The Springboks then hurled themselves on the Germans, whom they fiercely attacked with rifle and bomb, driving them back in a panic.
1918 Star 10 JulyThe home-coming. Springboks arrive at Park Station. Invalided survivors of Delville Wood arrive.
1925 Fraser & Gibbons Soldier & Sailor WordsSpringboks, The, The South African contingent in the War. From their badge, the Colonial emblem of a springbok antelope.
1942 Grocott’s Daily Mail 3 July 2Missing Springboks. We report with regret that..local men up North are missing.
1942 Grocott’s Daily Mail 6 July 3The Springboks are still in great heart and are..hitting out against Rommel’s shell-worn panzers.
1943 J. Burger Black Man’s Burden 236The Springboks (Union troops) are spoken of as the successors to the pioneer Voortrekkers.
1946 T. Macdonald Ouma Smuts 83These people had been frantic at the idea that the black man should be recruited for the Springbok army.
1991 F.G. Butler Local Habitation 7A captain of Royal Army Supply Corps, who had served in Italy cried, ‘Hullow, Springbok, you look lost.’
3. In historical contexts. Elliptical for Springbok Radio, a commercial radio station of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, operating from May 1950 until the mid-1980s. Also attributive.
1967 M.G. Gilbert Informant, Westminster (OFS)They..are writing to the Mercury & will also broadcast thanks over Springbok.
1971 J. McClure Steam Pig (1973) 97Not so busy you can’t listen to serials on Springbok, hey?
1971 Weekend Post 27 Feb. (Mag. Sect.) 9Half-a-million listeners who tune in every Saturday night at nine to..Springbok’s top comedy show, ‘Men from the Ministry’.
1972 Weekend Post 23 Sept. 2The news that there is to be no advertising on TV is a welcome relief...I wish someone could afford to subsidise Springbok too.
1975 Blossom in Darling 26 Feb. 111Sitting there by the house Saturday nights jis listening to Springbok and thinking how everybody else is out enjoying theyselfs.
1985 Frontline May 39White listeners who used to think that the name of broadcasting was Springbok.
4. In the phrase Springbok Scout: from 1961 the name given to a ‘Queen’s Scout’.
1970 F.N. Glover in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. II. 478What was a Queen’s Scout..is now a Springbok Scout.
1985 S. Afr. Panorama Sept. 16South Africa once had king or queen scout badges for boys who had achieved high levels of expertise. Today, there are Springbok scouts.
5. The springbok symbol, used on badges, insignia, etc. Also attributive. Cf. bokkie sense 3.
1925 [see sense 2 b].
1973 D.H. Craven in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. IX. 427In 1906 a team was sent to the United Kingdom under the captaincy of Paul Roos...On this tour the name ‘Springbok’, as a sobriquet for the South African team, originated, as well as the Springbok emblem as badge on the jersey.
1979 S. Afr. Panorama Dec. 1On one of every 42 Boeing 747 jets in the world, SAA’s emblem, the ‘Flying Springbok’, can be seen.
1991 Sunday Times 10 Feb. 23There is no doubt that the question of our national sporting emblem will be discussed. Should the leaping Springbok remain in pride of place or should it be replaced...Deshi Baktawer, SA Goalkeeper: ‘The Springbok is a symbol of excellence in the world of sport. If I went to my father and told him I’d gained Springbok colours, I’m sure he’d be very proud.’
1991 South News 14 Nov. 6A national nervous breakdown over the retirement of the springbok for national service.
1991 P. Hawthorne in Time 25 Nov. 54The sporting springbok was replaced by a deliberately neutral flag, but the symbol will not disappear completely. South African rugby and cricket sides are unlikely ever to be known by any other name.
1992 F. Keating in Guardian Weekly 9 Oct. 31At least the white, black, and coloured rugby unions are one and the Springbok blazer badge is now decorated with a wreath of protea flowers indicating ‘peace and hope’.
1992 E. Griffiths in Sunday Times 16 Aug. 30No more does the Springbok leap across our beating heart. Today, it tramples through a flowerbed of proteas.
1992 E. Jayiya in Pace Sept. 23About half an hour before the match a huge, beaming, white man appeared in the crowd waving a large ANC-flag with a springbok on [it].
The gazelle Antidorcas marsupialis of the Bovidae, in colour cinnamon-brown, dark reddish-brown, and white, having long narrow ears, ribbed lyre-shaped horns, and a dorsal fan of long white hairs, and characterized by the high and graceful leaps into the air which it makes when excited or disturbed; pronkbok, see pronkverb1; springbuck; springer1. Also attributive.
Alluding to ‘jumping’ (slang for ‘escaping’): an escapee from prison.
An amateur sportsman or sportswoman selected to represent South Africa; bok3 b; used collectively, a South African sporting team, especially the national rugby team;
A nickname for a South African soldier during the two world wars; collectively, the Union Defence Force (see U.D.F.noun). Also attributive.
Elliptical for Springbok Radio, a commercial radio station of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, operating from May 1950 until the mid-1980s. Also attributive.
from 1961 the name given to a ‘Queen’s Scout’.
The springbok symbol, used on badges, insignia, etc. Also attributive.

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