trek, verb

Forms:
trac, trackShow more Formerly also trac, track, trak, treck.
Origin:
Dutch, Afrikaans, Show more Dutch, imperative of trekken; many of the later senses are derived from Afrikaans trek. The central sense of the word in both Dutch and Afrikaans is ‘to pull’; see further notes at trek noun.
1. Of draught animals.
a. intransitive. To pull; often used as an order to animals to begin pulling, or to pull more strongly; loop sense 1 a.
1820 T. Philipps Philipps, 1820 Settler (1960) 74He carries his Mutton and dried beef and bread and his blanket in a large chest on which he sits to drive, and..jogs on contentedly, now and then calling out ‘Trac, Trac’.
1848 T. Smith in Wesleyan-Methodist Mag. IV. ii. 1106The patient oxen,..strove with all their might to trek, (pull.)
a1862 J. Ayliff Jrnl of ‘Harry Hastings’ (1963) 50The driver of the waggon gave his long whip a terrible swing shouting ‘trak!’
1862 A Lady Life at Cape (1963) 86The morning air would be rent with the shrill cries of ‘Bosman! Coburg! Englishman! Witfoot! trek, trek’.
1896 M.A. Carey-Hobson At Home in Tvl 286The word ‘Trek’ was uttered; the patient bullocks moved on.
1908 J.M. Orpen Reminisc. (1964) 11I shall just say ‘Trek,’ gently, and you will see they will all set themselves steadily to the yokes and pull the wagon out.
1934 B.I. Buchanan Pioneer Days 31Mr. Williams shouted ‘trek,’ and clapped his long whip, the oxen strained at the yokes, and we were under way.
1937 F.B. Young They Seek a Country 162‘Trek, you devils,’ he thundered.‘...Trek, you lazy troop of mares!’
1977 F.G. Butler Karoo Morning 90Tembile would act as voorloper, Neville would work the whip and Godfrey the brake. ‘Trek!’ shouted Neville, and we would be off.
b. transitive. To pull (a vehicle).
1863 W.C. Baldwin Afr. Hunting 152My oxen could not possibly trek my wagon through the heavy sands in their present condition.
1880 E.L. Price Jrnls (1956) 405They remind me of Papa’s young oxen when we have a span of them ‘trekking’ the wagon.
1893 H.M. Doughty Wherry in Wendish 53A farm horse..trekked us for four or five miles.
2. intransitive. To travel.
a. In historical contexts. To undertake a long or arduous journey by ox-wagon (often in convoy or with a large party). Also figurative.
1835 T.H. Bowker Journal. 25 Sept.Making ready for to track have got no horses.
1838 J. Collett Diary. I. 27 JuneTracked to day with my Family to Grahams Town in consequence of rumours about war.
1852 M.B. Hudson S. Afr. Frontier Life 69Trek! Trek! then my muse; from our weary travel, Such scenes as may please with thy aid I’ll unravel, All the picnicking pleasures attending on treks, I have found disappear as the novelty slacks.
1852 N.J. Merriman Cape Jrnls (1957) 195We..‘trekked’ up the Fish River and a very trying pull it was to the oxen and their drivers.
1885 Lady Bellairs Tvl at War 9During the period for Nachtmaal,..the farmers from the outlying districts trekked into Pretoria with their families.
1900 A.C. Doyle Great Boer War (1902) 621Viljoen’s force trekking north towards the line came upon this detachment.
1908 J.M. Orpen Reminisc. (1964) 251Makapaan..invaded the Transvaal so that the people were compelled to trek into laagers.
1925 P. Smith Little Karoo (1936) 9The favourite way for the English colonists was to trek first to Mossel Bay and then to take ship.
1941 C. Birkby Springbok Victory 153He commandeered a donkey and trekked back through the bush.
1951 J. Wedgewood Last of Radicals 53I was..trekking along north of the Vaal between Vereeniging and Villiersdorp thinking what a ripping morning it was.
1955 A. Delius Young Trav. in S. Afr. 46It’s a long way from some of the native mine-workers’ homes to the mines, and great numbers of them trek all the way back after they’ve worked a year or so and earned sufficient money.
1984 E. Prov. Herald 6 Apr. 1Thousands trek to coast as long weekend begins.
1990 S. Johnson in Independent (U.K.) 12 Feb. 8Crowds will trek any distance to be at the homecoming.
b. To undertake a long or arduous walk; to hike.
1962 F.C. Metrowich Scotty Smith 23He managed to escape and trekked across the veld on foot.
1983 Sunday Times 9 Oct. 19Thousands of black townsfolk braved icy winds to trek to the summit of an unnamed desolate hill.
1987 Argus 15 Jan. 1He hopes to go trekking in the Kalahari in April.
c. To undertake an onerous or inconvenient trip, especially one which the traveller believes could have been avoided.
1971 Drum Aug. 35Isaac and Rejoice have been trekking to Johannesburg almost every weekend to do their wedding shopping.
1972 Cape Times 10 Mar. 8Each time there is a new issue of stamps we have to trek into Cape Town to procure a ‘first-day cover.’
1987 E. Prov. Herald 19 May 3Port Elizabethans are having to trek back and forth between the Traffic Department in Sidwell and the Receiver of Revenue in Central in order to equip themselves with the necessary credentials for driving a car.
1992 C. Glyn in Natal Mercury 30 Dec. 8If John or I want to bath, we have to trek to one of the other couple’s farmhouses.
3. intransitive. To leave an area.
a. To relocate, to leave in order to settle elsewhere, formerly especially as part of a larger exodus or movement of people.
1837 J.M. Bowker Speeches & Sel. (1864) 57Those boers..complained bitterly of the manner in which he has deceived them, and wished that they had trekked sooner, before the Kafirs had left them so little to trek with.
1850 N.J. Merriman Cape Jrnls (1957) 142I soon began to meet Boers and their families trekking, i.e. quitting their farms, with their flocks and herds.
1850 J.D. Lewins Diary. 20 Oct.He tells me Dods Pringle’s people were insisting on leaving him. In Zwagershoek the Kafirs are all trecking.
a1858 J. Goldswain Chron. (1949) II. 149They had lost a great meney sheep thrue leveing thear homes — but what was they to do if they had not Tracked?
1882 C.L. Norris-Newman With Boers in Tvl 3Owing to the steady increase in their flocks, the scarcity of water and constant droughts, it became necessary for these pastoral patriarchs to ‘trek’ still further away.
1899 S. Erasmus Prinsloo 1The original Edict of Nantes served upon Jacobus Piet Prinsloo the Huguenot, compelling him to trek to South Africa, exists to this day.
1926 P. Smith Beadle (1929) 38When the colony fell into the hands of the English it was to preserve this Heaven-granted sense of nationality that many Dutchmen, in succeeding generations, trekked still further north into unknown country with their wives and their families, their flocks and their herds, their Bibles and their guns.
1946 S. Cloete Afr. Portraits 27It was part of the restless Boer nature to trek anyway as soon as any place became over-populated, or the game was killed off, or the seasons were bad.
1949 L.G. Green In Land of Afternoon 93They decided to trek to Tanganyika, where some friends had already settled.
1953 A. Paton Phalarope 20They had trekked from the British Government with its officials and its missionaries and its laws.
1968 K. McMagh Dinner of Herbs 63Each succeeding generation..trekked even further with their families, their wagons, their slaves, their flocks and herds seeking land.
1980 E. Prov. Herald 3 Sept. 2Zimbabwe sees another 1 644 trek.
1980 Oudtshoorn Courant & Het Suid-Western 9 Apr.Why I’m trekking from Mossel Bay.
1980 N. Ferreira Story of Afrikaner 29His father said he had had enough and decided to trek once more.
1990 New African 18 June 13I trekked to Johannesburg in 1962 at the age of 22 and got a job as a pianist at the Dorkay House.
b. In the phr. to trek out, (especially in a military context) to strike camp and leave an area, to pull out.
1852 M.B. Hudson S. Afr. Frontier Life 152The mass of rebels..had trekked out, And had gone towards Kafirland.
1900 A.W. Carter Informant, Ladybrand 24 Jan. 3There was a report that the English were trekking out.
1960 U. Krige (tr. of J. van Melle) in D. Wright S. Afr. Stories 129Load, and round up the oxen; trek out; trek home.
c. To go away, make off, move off.
1863 Lady Duff-Gordon in F. Galton Vacation Tourists (1864) III. 163One rich old Boer got three lunches, and then ‘trekked’ (made off) without paying at all.
1876 T. Stubbs Reminiscences. 88They had not heard any firing at Bowkers Camp — for some time,..they must have been beaten — or had treked.
1885 H. Rider Haggard King Solomon’s Mines (1972) 73‘And now,’ said Sir Henry, ‘trek.’ So we started.
1901 P.J. Du Toit Diary (1974) 40At sunset we trekked, not knowing whither.
1937 G.F. Gibson Story of Imp. Light Horse 132General Lucas Meyer had gone back to the Transvaal and..the Free Staters around Ladysmith were trekking.
1963 S. Cloete Rags of Glory 29Get your horses, kêrels. We are trekking.
4. intransitive. Of undomesticated animals: to move in large groups, especially in seasonal migrations.
1850 R.G.G. Cumming Hunter’s Life (1902) We came upon an immense, compact herd of several thousand ‘trekking’ springboks.
1895 J.G. Millais Breath from Veldt 25The springbuck..were beginning to trek backwards and forwards uneasily.
1937 J. Stevenson-Hamilton S. Afr. Eden 195The isolated patches of hoppers..join up and commence to trek.
1951 L.G. Green Grow Lovely 156There was a panic-stricken exodus of rats from the city. They trekked through the sewers in thousands and out on to the beaches.
1972 Daily Dispatch 29 July 4The herds were enormous, but they trekked about and could not stay in any area longer than the water supply lasted.
1976 A.P. Brink Instant in Wind 187The flood of brown bodies continues undiminished...‘But where are they going?’ she asks...‘They just trek like this.’
1989 E. Prov. Herald 18 Nov. 10An odd thing about terrapins, Dr Skead said, was that they trekked about. He had often seen them trekking across the veld.
5. intransitive. To travel constantly from place to place; to live a nomadic life.
c1851 H. James in F.C. Metrowich Valiant but Once (1956) 215Buzby ‘trekked’ with this stock.., guarding them day and night, enduring every privation for nine months.
1886 G.A. Farini Through Kalahari Desert 100They had..some 5000 sheep, 800 cattle, and 1000 goats, with which they wandered over the country...For the last seven years they had been ‘trekking’ from Carnarvon.
1930 N. Stevenson Farmers of Lekkerbat 234She met Rijk Martinus who, with his big horse and dog, was returning from native territory where he had been trekking for a month.
a1943 W. Westrup in A.D. Dodd Anthology of Short Stories (a1958) 68I bin trekking by myself for most o’ them fifty years I spoke of.
1958 S. Cloete Mask 21My plan is to trek about seeing the world and painting as I go.
1971 Rand Daily Mail 29 June 13When the holiday seasons are really booming, they trek from one hotel to another.
1978 A.P. Brink Rumours of Rain 210He moved to a frontier district and became a stock farmer, which meant that he had to spend his life trekking this way and that, his wanderings determined by available pasture, the onslaught of Bushmen or predators, and rumours of rain.
6. Of farmers and livestock.
a. intransitive. To move from one grazing area to another, usually for seasonal grazing.
1867 Blue Bk for Col. 1866 JJ15Were it not for this dam, the owner would have to trek with all his stock.
1893 E. Nicholson in Cape Illust. Mag. Vol.4 No.6, 206The sheep could not trek until there was grass in the Free State.
1911 Farmer’s Weekly 11 Oct. 171Many of the sheep farmers in the northern districts of Natal, who have for generations past been accustomed to ‘trek’ to the Free State and Transvaal for the summer grazing are..now keeping their flocks in Natal.
1948 H. Wolhuter Mem. of Game Ranger 12We met some trek-boers who were trekking down to the winter veld with their sheep and cattle.
1953 U. Krige Dream & Desert 107In times of drought he would trek with his sheep to find pasture.
b. transitive. To move (livestock) from one place of grazing to another.
1972 J.D. Keet in Daily Dispatch 6 May 10Long ago..farmers trekked their sheep from the Free State to the better winter grazing of the Natal lowveld.
1979 T. Gutsche There Was a Man 212They..hid their animals and trekked them secretly or at night.
7. transitive. To cover (ground, a distance, or a specific route).
1890 F. Young Winter Tour in S. Afr. 128The ground which I have myself treked.
1912 A.W. Hodson (title)Trekking the Great Thirst.
1937 C.R. Prance Tante Rebella’s Saga 101He with his countless retinue must ‘trek the Great Thirst’ of nearly a hundred miles to Bloemfontein.
8. Fishing.
a. intransitive. To fish using a trek net (see trek noun sense 12 c) cast from a boat and pulled in from shore with the catch.
1934 Sunday Times 24 JuneLocal fisherfolk had been trekking for their fish.
1985 A. Tredgold Bay between Mountains 204Not all trek licences are held by professional fishermen; some have been given to men who trek as a sideline or just for sport.
b. transitive. To catch (fish) in this way.
1960 J. Cope Tame Ox 170How could you explain her wanting to come and trek fish with a boat-load of rough men?
9. intransitive. To draw, to infuse (as tea-leaves, etc., in liquid). See also treksel.
1945 N. Devitt People & Places 140We speak of leaving tea leaves to trek in the teapot, or of buchu leaves to trek in the brandy bottle.
10. intransitive and transitive. To pull (something).
1985 J. Scott in Sunday Times 5 May 4I pulled up and down repeatedly, for good measure, I also trekked...At the bottom is a row of knobs, each one for a different type of chocolate. I pulled and trekked them all. Once again I tried the coin return.
To pull; often used as an order to animals to begin pulling, or to pull more strongly; loop1 a.
To pull (a vehicle).
To undertake a long or arduous journey by ox-wagon (often in convoy or with a large party). Also figurative.
To undertake a long or arduous walk; to hike.
To undertake an onerous or inconvenient trip, especially one which the traveller believes could have been avoided.
To relocate, to leave in order to settle elsewhere, formerly especially as part of a larger exodus or movement of people.
to strike camp and leave an area, to pull out.
To go away, make off, move off.
Of undomesticated animals: to move in large groups, especially in seasonal migrations.
To travel constantly from place to place; to live a nomadic life.
To move from one grazing area to another, usually for seasonal grazing.
To move (livestock) from one place of grazing to another.
To cover (ground, a distance, or a specific route).
Fishing.
To fish using a trek nettreknoun12 c cast from a boat and pulled in from shore with the catch.
To catch (fish) in this way.
To draw, to infuse (as tea-leaves, etc., in liquid).
To pull (something).
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