Definition of outspan in English:



[WITH OBJECT]South African
  • 1 Unharness (an animal) from a wagon:

    ‘the wagons were drawn up beside the road and the oxen outspanned’
    [no object] ‘they outspanned at the hotel’
    • ‘We then outspanned for the night.’
    1. 1.1[no object] Rest or camp at the side of the road while travelling by wagon:
      ‘we used to outspan for five or six hours in the heat of the day’
      • ‘I outspanned on what is now Market Square and let the oxen graze there whilst I walked up to where my Aunt lay ill in a tent.’


South African
  • A place for grazing or camping on a wagon journey.

    • ‘The trekking routes and outspans - a term derived from unyoking a team of oxen - became major channels of communication into the interior.’


Early 19th century: from Dutch uitspannen unyoke.