List of English words of Afrikaans origin

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Words of Afrikaans origin have entered other languages. British English has absorbed Afrikaans words primarily via British soldiers who served in the Boer Wars. Many more words have entered common usage in South African English due to the parallel nature of the English and Afrikaner cultures in South Africa. Afrikaans words have unusual spelling patterns.

Internationally common[edit]

  • Afrikaans (literally "african", adj.)
  • apartheid (literally "separate-ness")
  • bergwind (warm dry wind blowing from the plateau to the coast)
  • biltong (literally "rump tongue/strip")
  • Boer (literally "farmer")
  • boerewors (literally "farmer's sausage")
  • ja (literally "yes")
  • kloof (literally "cleft", a steep-sided valley)
  • kraal (African village within a stockade, from Portuguese curral)
  • kommando (originally a mounted infantry unit raised to retrieve stolen livestock)[1][2]
  • kop, or koppie (literally "head" or "cup", an African monadnock)
  • laager (a collection of vehicles in a circle, meant for protection)
  • rand (literally "edge" or "rim")
  • rooibos (literally "red bush")
  • rondavel (literally "round hovel")
  • sjambok (an ox-hide whip)
  • spoor (literally "tracks" or "footprints")
  • trek (literally "draw",[3] or "haul")
  • veld (literally "field" or natural African bush vegetation)[4][5]

Common names[edit]

Afrikaans (or Cape Dutch) common names for plants and animals often entered the English vernacular:

Cape Dutch[edit]

There are also several English words derived from Cape Dutch, a forerunner of Afrikaans:

  • hartebeest (modern Afrikaans equivalent is hartebees)
  • scoff/skoff[7] (as in scoffing food): from Cape Dutch schoff, the word did not find its way into modern Afrikaans
  • veldt borrowed again by English in the modern form veld
  • wildebeest (modern Afrikaans equivalent is wildebees)

Common in South African English[edit]

There are almost innumerable borrowings from Afrikaans in South African English.


  1. ^ "Resistance To Colonial Expansion, The Resistance Of The San, The Commando". New History. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  2. ^ James, Wilmot G. and Mary Simons (ed.) (January 9, 2009). Class, Caste and Color: A Social and Economic History of the South African Western Cape. Transaction Publishers. pp. 13–15. ISBN 1412808650. 
  3. ^ Hamer, Mary. "“Chant-Pagan”: Notes". Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  4. ^ McKenna, Amy (2011). The History of Southern Africa. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-61530-312-0. Veld, meaning field in Afrikaans, is the name given to various types of open country in Southern Africa that is used for pasturage and farmland. To most South African farmers today the 'veld' refers to the land they work, much of which has long since ceased to be 'natural.' 
  5. ^ Meyer, Deon (2011). Trackers. Grove/Atlantic, Incorporated. p. 476. ISBN 978-0-8021-9513-5. Veld: Afrikaans for natural African bush vegetation, usually savanna grass and thorn trees, can also refer to grazing, field, or hunting ground. 
  6. ^ Greaves, Nic. The magic fish bones and other tales from Africa. p. 121. 
  7. ^ Hamer, Mary. "“The Parting of the Columns”: Notes". Retrieved 23 April 2012. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]