One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A member of a southern African people distinguished by short stature, yellow-brown skin, and tightly-curled hair, and speaking a language characterized by click sounds.
2Any of the group of languages or dialects spoken by the Khoekhoe.
Of or relating to the Khoekhoe or their languages.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in John Barrow. From Khoekhoe khoe-khoe, self-designation from khoe- human + khoe human being, person. The α and some forms represent borrowings from Khoekhoe words of the same family which are formed from the base compound khoe-khoe by suffixation. The some forms show the 3rd person masculine singular suffix -b (formerly spelt † -p), i.e. their sense is ‘man belonging to the Khoekhoe people’. The some forms show the 3rd person neuter or common gender plural suffix -n, i.e. their sense is ‘several members of the Khoekhoe people’ or ‘the Khoekhoe people collectively’. However, in English, the distinction between these suffixes is often ignored; compare e.g. quots. 1801, 1969, 2005 at sense A. 1.
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