spruit, noun

Also sproot.
Dutch, AfrikaansShow more Dutch (later Afrikaans), ‘offshoot’.
a. A small stream or watercourse, usually containing little or no water except in the rainy season; sprout. Also attributive.
1832 Graham’s Town Jrnl 13 Apr. 62They were joined by Lieut. Warden and his party..who had been ordered to come over the back of the mountains and rendezvous at the spruits of the Keiskamma.
1843 J.C. Chase Cape of G.H. 149From this source are fed numerous streams, or spruits, as they are called, which enable the agriculturist, by means of irrigation, to counteract the summer’s drought.
1860 J. Sanderson in Jrnl of Royal Geog. Soc. XXX. 236After crossing three small spruits or streams, the road to Bloemfontein enters a pass on the skirts of the Wittebergen.
1878 H.A. Roche On Trek in Tvl 71We have crossed at least twenty-two spruits, wet and dry.
1899 Natal Agric. Jrnl 31 Mar. 3‘Spruit,’ meaning in Dutch to issue, and in South African Dutch stream or streamlet, has become a thoroughly accepted word in South African English.
1903 E.F. Knight S. Afr. after War 274Most of the..crops had been destroyed by the drought, the spruits were dry, and there was no water in the dams of the deserted farms.
1911 L. Knoblauch in Farmer’s Weekly 18 Oct. 194There existed across this flat from the mountain, a natural drain or spruit, which carried the drainage from the mountains directly into the River Zonder End stream.
1918 C. Garstin Sunshine Settlers 205We splashed across a sproot, that coursed like a dirty gutter.
1923 G.H. Nicholls Bayete! 157All your spoors were plainly marked in the spruit bed.
1934 B.I. Buchanan Pioneer Days 99The steady rain swelled all streams, so that spruits were converted into rivers, and rivers became torrents.
1942 S. Cloete Hill of Doves 51The water in the spruit was very low: lower, Stoffel had said yesterday, than he ever remembered it.
1961 T. Macdonald Tvl Story 131Often, suddenly, you come across a spruit (with water even in winter).
1968 S. Cloete Chetoko 70A dry spruit ran across the road.
1974 The 1820 Vol.47 No.2, 25He noticed the influence American and Australian diggers were having on that corner of Africa — where else in Africa are krantzes, spruits and dongas called anything else except in the Eastern Transvaal where a spruit had become a creek when there was water in it or a gulch when it was dry.
1991 Best of S. Afr. Short Stories (Reader’s Digest Assoc.) 277There are many words for watercourses of varying size and flow...A spruit is a tributary feeding a larger stream, and for much of the year usually has a dry bed.
b. An element in place names.
1850 N.J. Merriman Cape Jrnls (1957) 135We found ourselves, just after sundown, at Carl Spruit (a small stream), about ten miles this side of Bloemfontein.
1867 Blue Bk for Col. 1866 FF19The Stormberg Spruit and other streams abound in barbel, white, and yellow fish, which are excellent food.
1882 C. Du Val With Show through Sn Afr. I. 255By the evening we reached a tributary rivulet known as the Sand Spruit — a term usually applied to small watercourses running to river-beds. But ‘spruit’ as it was, we found about six feet of water in the drift.
1900 W.S. Churchill London to Ladysmith 413The iron bridge across the Onderbrook Spruit had to be crossed.
1903 E.F. Knight S. Afr. after War 283The British position was a strong one, having the steep Selous Spruit on one side of it and a donga on the other.
1949 O. Walker Proud Zulu (1951) 208From the hidden depression of the unseen Ulundi spruit rose a mass of Sibebu’s Mandhlokazi who came on firing raggedly.
1988 O. Oberholzer Ariesfontein to ZuurfonteinThis idea came to me — a pictorial journey from Ariesfontein to Zuurfontein. Sure, I admit, it could have been place names ending in ‘spruit’ or ‘kraal’ or ‘berg’.
A small stream or watercourse, usually containing little or no water except in the rainy season; sprout. Also attributive.
An element in place names.
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