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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.


rooinek ‎(plural rooineks)

  1. (South Africa, derogatory, ethnic slur) An Englishman.
    • 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,
      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.”
    • 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.'


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



rooi +‎ nek


rooinek ‎(plural [please provide])

  1. an Englishman.