Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Afrikaans rooinek, from rooi (red) + nek (neck). Probably a reference to the fact that Englishmen, being new to Africa, wore inadequate headgear (such as solar topees (pith helmets) or no hat at all) and thus sunburned more easily than Afrikaners. Other theories have it being a reference to the then red collars of British military uniforms, or to the red markings that British farmers put on their imported merino sheep. Compare redneck.



rooinek (plural rooineks)

  1. (South Africa, derogatory, ethnic slur) An Englishman, or a South African that speaks English as opposed to Afrikaans. [from 19th c.]
    • 1900, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Great Boer War, 2011, page 470,
      Again and again the surprise was effected, not by the nation of hunters, but by those rooineks whose want of cunning and of veld-craft had for so long been a subject of derision and merriment.
    • 1904, Sabine Baring-Gould, The White Flag,
      “Well,” said she, “if I hadn't killed more Rooineks than that, I'd be ashamed of myself.”
    • 1906, William Henry Fitchett, Ithuriel's Spear, 2008, page 240,
      'My father was at Bronkhurst Spruit,' he continued. 'How they shot the rooineks down that day! Our men lay in the long grass, while the redcoats stood in line on the road, and they shot them like rabbits. The fools! Their guns were in the carts.'
    • 1952, Lessing, Doris, 'Martha Quest', Panther, published 1974, page 13:
      That evening […] the other, quite frankly, said that these rooineks got her down, they were all the same, they thought they owned the earth they walked on.




rooi +‎ nek


rooinek (plural rooinekke)

  1. an Englishman, originally specifically a British soldier during the Boer wars, but by the early 20th century a general colloquial term, commonly derogatory, for anyone with English connections (later partly superseded by khaki)
    • 1939, Manie Maritz, My Lewe en Strewe[1]:
      Hierdie waardige ou ooms het ons jongeres met vertroue besiel. Hulle was in ons oordeel die baanbrekers! hulle is die manne wat die Rooinekke sou kafloop.
      These dignified old gentlemen ("uncles") inspired us youngsters with confidence; in our judgement they were the trailblazers! They were the men who would trounce the Rooinekke.


  • 1978, Jean Banford, A Dictionary of South African English, Oxford.