tot, noun2

Origin:
EnglishShow more Special uses of general English tot a small measure of drink, a dram.
1. in historical contexts. The tot: The measure of wine (usually much more than a tot) supplied several times a day to a labourer in part payment of his wages. Also attributive.
[1916 L.D. Flemming Fool on Veld (1933) 48He predicts that the general cry, For labour that cannot be got, Will be instantly silenced if I Give my niggers a regular ‘tot’.]
1926 E. Prov. Herald 23 Feb. 7Did honorary members think that the wine farmer was such a fool as to give the tot to his labourer to make him drunk and incapable of work?
1952 Mr Drum in Drum June 7Farmers say that the tot makes workers work better, and that they can’t do without it...Many of the men who get the tot were born in ‘tot’ families, and have never known life without tots. Life on the vineyards revolves round the tot.
1952 Drum June 8 (caption)Young children work on the vineyards, and often take the tot from an early age.
1952 F. Marquard in Drum June 8The whole system should be abolished...The tot is poison to the brain: it deprives people of a clear mind.
2. combinations and Special Combination
tot-sodden adjective;
tot system in historical contexts, the custom whereby labourers, especially those employed on vineyards (or ‘wine farms’), were paid part of their wages in wine; dop system, see dop noun sense 3 c; also transferred sense;
tot-time.
1952 Mr Drum in Drum June 8The husband’s tot-sodden existence is shown all too clearly by the grim bareness of the rooms — often with no furniture at all.
[1896tot system: R. Wallace Farming Indust. of Cape Col. 403The pernicious custom of giving a daily allowance of wine, a custom similar to that of supplying beer to the labourer in the South of England.]
1926 E. Prov. Herald 12 Feb. 7Liquor Bill Under Fire — Evils of the Tot System.
c1936 M. Valbeck Headlong from Heaven 229The ‘tot’ system, whereby in many parts of the Western Province the farm labourer was kept stimulated with a ration of up to two pints of cheap wine daily.
1952 Drum June 7The most surprising thing about the tot system is that it is perfectly legal.
1956 A. Sampson Drum 52We published a series of articles by Mr Drum on labour conditions in South Africa. One was about the ‘tot system’ in the vineyards of the Cape, where Coloured workers are paid partly in tots of wine, and live in a haze of semi-drunkenness.
1963 M. Kavanagh We Merry Peasants 86Under the prevalent tot system initiated in the wine farming areas of the Western Cape, each working man — including any teen-ager not at school — receives a ration of five-plus condensed milk tins of wine every day.
1972 Argus 10 Aug. 3The Coloured Representative Council has called for the abolition of the tot system on farms.
1973 Argus 14 Apr. 13Most farmers who still apply the tot system argue they will lose their labour if they stop it...Some of the side effects of the tot system are alcoholism of epidemic proportions, a high assault rate, and an abysmally low standard of living.
1974 Sunday Times 24 Feb. 14Asked whether he made use of the tot system, Mr de J— said: ‘I’ll be quite frank. I give them a little wine in the morning and two bottles each during the day because I like to keep them happy.’
1981 V.A. February Mind your Colour 201The ‘tot system’ is one whereby ‘coloured’ farm-hands are rewarded right through the day with tots of wine or brandy presumably to keep up productivity. It also keeps the poor worker in a constant state of inebriation and makes him a willing partner to his own degradation.
1987 South 27 July 1Workers at a toy factory in Philippi are on the tot system...The workers are recruited from farms in the surrounding area where the outlawed tot system is still a common practice.
1990 T. Equinus in Weekly Mail 2 Nov. 54He says he will pay us according to the Tot System — half a dozen crates of Fosters for the weekend and a free stomach pump every fortnight.
1952 Mr Drum in Drum June 8At work they are apathetic and half-dazed, watching the farmhouse and slackening off when it gets near tot-time.
The measure of wine (usually much more than a tot) supplied several times a day to a labourer in part payment of his wages. Also attributive.
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18961990