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From Afrikaans rooinek. There are several theories to explain the origin of this epithet, such as it being a reference to the then red collars of British military uniforms, or that it stems from the red markings the British farmers put on their imported Merino breed of sheep, but the most commonly accepted theory is that it relates to the fact they sunburnt easily, because unlike the Afrikaners they were new to Africa and so dressed inappropriately (i.e. wore inadequate hats, e.g. sola topees (pith helmets), or no hat at all).


rooinek (plural rooineks)

  1. (South Africa, derogatory, ethnic slur) An Englishman.
    • 1970, Panorama: July 1970.
      Often the Boers ... chuckled at the incredible behaviour of the rooinecks, a term ever after applied to the English because their untanned skins often burned red in the brilliant South African sun.
    • 1904, Sabine Baring-Gould, The White Flag
      So soon as the new Heerendorp was ready for occupation, Jacob took a large knife and cut seventeen notches in the doorpost.
      “What is that for, Jacob?” asked his wife.
      “They are reminders of the Britishers I have shot.”
      “Well,” said she, “if I hadn't killed more Rooineks than that, I'd be ashamed of myself.”


Jean Banford. A dictionary of South African English. Oxford 1978.



rooi +‎ nek


rooinek (??? please provide the plural!)

  1. an Englishman.