One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
verb[with object]South African
1Yoke (draught animals, typically oxen) in a team to a vehicle.‘Duma inspanned sixteen of his best cattle’
- ‘The waentjies had functioning disselbooms, jukke and skeie complete with carefully cut riempies spantoue for inspanning the oxen.’
- 1.1 Harness an animal or animals to (a vehicle)‘the farmer inspanned his wagon and returned to Maritzburg’
- ‘He ordered the wagons to be inspanned, but left where they were, and refused requests to allow them to be laagered.’
- ‘The Boers charged the hill four times, and were inspanning wagons preparatory to a retreat, when our men were forced to fall back owing to their reserve.’
Early 19th century: from Dutch inspannen ‘to stretch’, from in- ‘in’ + spannen ‘to span’.
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