werf, noun

Forms:
verft, werftShow more Also verft, werft, wherf.
Plurals:
werfs, occasionally werven /vɛrvən/, werwe /vɛrvə/.
Origin:
DutchShow more Older and dialectal Dutch werf, werft yard, raised ground on which a house is built.
1. A farm homestead and its immediate environs; a farmyard. Also attributive, and figurative.
1818 C.I. Latrobe Jrnl of Visit 191We..took leave, pitched the tent on the werft, and kindled a fire.
1822 W.J. Burchell Trav. I. 238On the werf, as the space immediately surrounding a colonist’s dwelling, is termed, was a very large sheep-fold.
1841 B. Shaw Memorials 158I am sure you will be long, for a woman is a werf, (village) and cannot easily be moved.
1859 W.G. Atherstone in Cape Monthly Mag. V. Apr. 204You lead your horse down the..road, and are deafened by the usual canine salutation of a boer’s werf.
1889 F. Galton Trav. in S. Afr. 21He was a huge, gaunt beast, miserably thin, and had a dog of Stewartson’s in his inside, which he had snapped up on the werft the night before.
1896 M.A. Carey-Hobson At Home in Tvl 355There were several houses on the verft or homestead, each inhabited by a married son or daughter of the family.
1915 D. Fairbridge Torch Bearer 261He..walked across the werf to the horses.., and rode away.
1927 C.G. Botha Social Life in Cape Col. 82On the corn farms the houses..had a number of outbuildings on the ‘werf’ or yard.
1953 U. Krige Dream & Desert 175Often carrying him on her back about the house or outside on the wide, sloping werf.
1967 H. Fransen Stellenbosch Museum 38In..Jonkershoek Valley lies Lanzerac, an example of a homestead with its forecourt surrounded by outbuildings and werf wall.
1968 H. Fransen in D.J. Opperman Spirit of Vine 199No werf (or farmyard) in the wine-producing districts of the Western Cape is complete without its gabled cellar-structure next to the homestead itself.
1968 H. Fransen in D.J. Opperman Spirit of Vine 207Other farm complexes with enclosed werwe are Uitkyk..and Vredenhof.
1987 G. Viney Col. Houses 52The farm buildings enclosed the werf.
2. In the context of traditional African societies: a. kraal noun sense 2 a. b. The temporary settlement of a nomadic group.
1852 J. Tindall Jrnl (1959) 164At the chief’s werf.
1853 F. Galton Narr. of Explorer in Tropical S. Afr. (1889) 60We arrived at our guide’s werft in the afternoon, and I was thoroughly fatigued.
1853 F. Galton Narr. of Explorer in Tropical S. Afr. (1889) 63We arrived at the chief’s werft, and I liked its situation and effect very much.
1861 C.J. Andersson Okavango River 179Five minutes further walk brought us to a werft consisting of between twenty and thirty huts.
1887 A.A. Anderson 25 Yrs in Waggon I. 245There is a hill..with many wherfs of Bushmen.
1928 H. Vedder in Native Tribes of S.W. Afr. 180The ‘werf’ or village..only includes a community of these who are family relatives.
1952 L.G. Green Lords of Last Frontier 6He wanted his garrison to serve as a buffer between the Hereroes at Okahandja and the Hottentot werft of Hendrik Witbooi at Hoornkrans.
1969 J.M. White Land God Made in Anger 228Occasionally the Bushman werf or dwelling site will consist of a few flimsy scherms built of grass and interwoven branches.
1971 J.A. Brown Return 35The cattle were on the move back to all the werfs along the river.
3. By metonymy: the inhabitants of a werf.
1877 W.C. Palgrave Damaraland p.ixThe whole werft, about ten in number, came to the waggon.
1977 N. Okes in Quarry ’77 138Early on Saturday morning the horses and their riders departed to Rawsonville and at once the werf began to stir.
A farm homestead and its immediate environs; a farmyard. Also attributive, and figurative.
kraalnoun2 a.
The temporary settlement of a nomadic group.
the inhabitants of a werf.
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18181987