Definition of outspan in English:



[with object]South African
  • 1Unharness (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. 1.1no 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.’
      pitch tents, set up camp, pitch camp, encamp, bivouac
      View synonyms


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’.