vlei, noun

flae, flaeyShow more Also flae, flaey, flay, flea, fleh, fley, vlea, vley.
vleis /fleɪz/, or occasionally ‖vleie /ˈfleɪə/.
South African Dutch, Afrikaans, DutchShow more South African Dutch and Afrikaans, reduced form of Dutch vallei valley.
1. A shallow natural pool of water; low-lying, marshy ground, covered with water during the rainy season; valley sense a. Cf. pan sense b. Also attributive.
1802 Truter & Somerville in G.M. Theal Rec. of Cape Col. (1899) IV. 369We afterwards passed two other vleis or ponds about two hours distant one from another, and the water was in both of the same quality as in the first.
1824 S. Afr. Jrnl I. 73The immense desert tracts..are..interspersed with stagnant pools, and ‘vleys’, or natural reservoirs of brakish water, which, however bad, satisfies the game.
1832 Graham’s Town Jrnl 24 Aug. 136During or soon after the fall of rain, fleys occur close to the road.
1848 H. Ward Five Yrs in Kaffirland I. 101The Dragoon, on his arrival, must be taught frontier geography concerning kloofs, valleys, flays, short cuts, friendly or hostile kraals, &c.
1853 F.P. Fleming Kaffraria 38Vast plains, covered with grass and wild flowers, and here and there dotted with ‘vleys’ (or large ponds of water).
a1858 J. Goldswain Chron. (1946) I. 87Neer the twentieth Mile Stone ware thear ware two large flaes of water.
1863 W.C. Baldwin Afr. Hunting 226We found the vley, where we fully expected water, dried up.
1871 J. McKay Reminisc. 11Having come to a small pond or vley, the water in it was so thick that the men had to keep their teeth closed to act as strainers.
1886 G.A. Farini Through Kalahari Desert 62When at last we were off, the route lay along the edge of a vley or marsh.
1896 H.A. Bryden Tales of S. Afr. 13He stayed for a week, and he was for ever talking of a wonderful vlei he had discovered. [Note] Pronounced flay. A vlei is the Dutch name for a shallow lake.
1906 H. Rider Haggard Benita 67Up slopes and down slopes,..across half-dried vleis that in the wet season were ponds.
1912 W. Westrup Land of To-Morrow 155There are a good many ducks in that big vlei below my place, and we ought to have some sport.
1926 P.W. Laidler Tavern of Ocean 6At the foot of Lion’s Head was a large vlei or marsh, where geese, ducks, and other wild water-fowl abounded...The lion and the rhinoceros roamed around and in the vleis hippopotami sported.
c1936 S. & E. Afr. Yr Bk & Guide 97There are many shallow pans or vleis generally attributed to wind erosion, which receive drainage in times of heavy rainfall and are sometimes erroneously termed ‘lakes’.
1948 V.M. Fitzroy Cabbages & Cream 1A lawn is bounded by a vineyard, and a row of Lombardy poplars, and beyond, the low-lying land we call the vlei which is green with barley in winter and in summer is a tapestry of vegetable rows.
1959 L.G. Green These Wonders 91Along the Kalahari edge, especially in South West African territory, are so-called ‘talking vleis’, little ponds left after the rare rains. Some gurgle and rumble, the strength of the sound ranging from a whisper or a moan to a shriek.
1972 S. Afr. Garden & Home Oct. 34The Malachite Kingfisher which is found throughout the streams and vleie of South Africa.
1982 S. Afr. Panorama Jan. 39To regard a natural vlei not as an obstacle to be drained and reclaimed or as a convenient dumping site.., but rather as a unique habitat for many forms of wildlife is a measure of civilisation.
1993 J. Thomas in House & Leisure Nov. 50A tranquil vlei, that had a strange colour and smelled funny, added to the suburb’s rural character.
2. combinations
vleibos, vleibossie /-bɔs(i)/ [Afrikaans, bos bush (+ dimunitive suffix -ie)], any of several plants which grow om marshy ground or above underground water; cf. aarbossie;
vlei grass, any of several marsh grasses, especially Echinochloa holubii;
vlei ground or vlei land, marshland; valley-ground, see valley sense b;
vlei lily, any of several plants of the Amaryllidaceae, including Galtonia princeps, Crinum spp., and Nerine frithii;
vlei loerie /- luːri/, /- lʊəri/ [Afrikaans, loerie see loerie], any of several species of coucal of the Cuculidae, especially Centropus superciliosus; see also rainbird sense 1;
vlei muis obsolete [Afrikaans, muis mouse], the speckled dark brown mouse Otomys irroratus, favouring marshy localities;
vlei tea, also vleitee /-tɪə/ [Afrikaans vleitee], the plant Cyclopia maculata; its leaves, infused as a tea; see also honey tea;
vleiveld /-felt/ [Afrikaans, veld terrain], vlei ground (see above).
1963 S.H. Skaife Naturalist Remembers 108A swampy patch covered with a dense growth of the plants farmers call vleibossies and which are known to science as Berzelia lanuginosa. As they only grow where there is permanent water in the soil these plants are a reliable indication of an underground spring.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 485Vleibos, cliffortia strobilifera.., Hertia pallens.., Senecio lanceus.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 160Eastern Province Vlei Grass, Eragrostis lehmanniana, Nees.
1968 Farmer’s Weekly 3 Jan. 9Approximately 120 morgen vleigrass is cut annually to provide hay for 400/500 cattle.
1972 Farmer’s Weekly 21 Apr. 77Excellent red and vlei grass grazing with carrying capacity 1500–2000 sheep and 200 head of cattle.
1981 Grocott’s Mail 11 Dec. 2A grass indigenous to South Africa, red vleigrass, has outyielded a number of comparable summer-growing species in trials in northern New Zealand.
1907 J.P. Fitzpatrick Jock of Bushveld 319Only a little way off we came into dry vlei ground where there were few trees and the grass stood about waist high.
1937 Handbk for Farmers (Dept of Agric. & Forestry) 380In vlei ground and also frequently as a pioneer grass in both sour and sweet veld, ‘thatch grass’..is often dominant.
1948 V.M. Fitzroy Cabbages & Cream 153They say he’s rented that bit of vlei land down the road, that we never see anyone working on. Who is he?
1940 J.C.F. Hopkins et al. Common Veld Flowers 40The Vlei Lily can be arranged with considerable decorative effect in bowls or low vases.
1953 J. Hoyle Some Flowers of Bush 3Vlei Lily...This handsome lily-like plant lives in damp places..and has an enormous bulb which is easily transplanted.
1984 Daily Dispatch 30 Aug. 22Vlei lilies ‘wetting their toes in the river’s ripples’.
1856 R.E.E. Wilmot Diary (1984) 134The curious tribe of coucals here called vley lory is not common...They are all first cousins of the cuckoos.
1864 T. Baines Explor. in S.-W. Afr. 391I shot one of the loosely-feathered birds called in the colony Vlei Lories, or Reed Hawks.
1908 Al Fresco in E. London Dispatch 4 Dec. 4The ‘vlei-lourie’ perhaps better known hereabouts as the ‘rain-bird,’ the natives regarding it as a weather prophet.
1923 Haagner & Ivy Sketches of S. Afr. Bird-Life 59The Vlei-Louries — as the name implies — are fond of hunting the bush along rivers and vleis.
1937 M. Alston Wanderings 105Another bird..that we heard continually was the vlei lourie or ‘rain cuckoo’. This interesting and odd-looking bird loves long reeds.
[1953 J.M. Winterbottom Common Birds of S.-E. 11The Vlei Loerie, as is called in Afrikaans, inhabits reed-beds and riverside scrub.]
1973 Weekend Post 28 Apr. 4The vlei louries, the bokmakieries, the tit babblers and the Diederick cuckoo.
1901 W.L. Sclater Mammals of S. Afr. III. 26Vley otomys: otomys irroratus. Vernacular Names: Vley Muis of the Colonists.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 537Vlei muis,..Otomys irroratus; so named because its habitat is generally in marshy localities near water.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 538Vlei thee,..The name given in the Riversdale District to Cyclopia tenuifolia, Lehm.
1979 Heard & Faull Our Best Trad. Recipes 19Coffee and tea being imported luxuries we are not surprised to read of the many substitutes for coffee or of the popularity of vlei and bush tea.
1994 Weekend Post 26 Nov. 11Cyclopia subternata, also called bush tea or vleitee.
1968 Farmer’s Weekly 3 Jan. 9This farm is well known for its high carrying capacity and vleiveldt.
A shallow natural pool of water; low-lying, marshy ground, covered with water during the rainy season; valleya.
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