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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Boer \Boer\, n. [D., a farmer. See Boor.] A colonist or farmer in South Africa of Dutch descent.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"Dutch colonist in South Africa," 1824, from Dutch boer "farmer," from Middle Dutch, cognate with Old English gebur "dweller, farmer, peasant," and thus related to bower, German Bauer, and the final syllable of neighbor (see boor). Boer War (1899-1902) was technically the Second Boer War, there having been a brief preview 1880-1881.


n. 1 A Dutch colonist in South Africa, or one of their (white) descendants, especially a farmer; an Afrikaner. 2 A militant in the (w: Boer War)


Boer (, or ; ) is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for "farmer". As used in South Africa, it was used to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century. For a time the Dutch East India Company controlled this area, but it was taken over by the United Kingdom.

In addition the term was applied to those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State, Transvaal (which are together known as the Boer Republics), and to a lesser extent Natal. They left the Cape primarily to escape British rule and get away from the constant border wars between the British imperial government and the tribes on the eastern frontier.

Boer (surname)

Boer, Boere, and variants thereof, are names deriving from the Dutch word for " farmer", boer, and may refer to the Boer people of South Africa, also known as Afrikaners, or to the following individuals:

  • Johann Lucas Boër (1751–1835), German doctor
  • Richard Constant Boer (1863–1929), Dutch scholar of Old Norse
  • Edward William Boers (1884–1929), American sailor
  • Christiaan Boers (1889–1942), Dutch soldier
  • Emile Boeres, (1890–1944), Luxembourg composer
  • Heinrich Boere (1921–2013), Dutch-German soldier
  • Albert Boer (1935–2002), Dutch writer
  • Jan Gerard Wessels Boer (born 1936), Dutch plant taxonomist
  • Remco Boere (born 1961), Dutch footballer
  • Jeroen Boere (1967–2007), Dutch footballer
  • Thorsten Boer (born 1969), German footballer
  • Diederik Boer (born 1980), Dutch footballer
  • Robbert Kees Boer (born 1981), Dutch speed skater
  • Jonnie Boer (born 1985), Dutch chef
  • Margot Boer (born 1985), Dutch speed skater

Usage examples of "boer".

During the whole war the task of the British had been made very much more difficult by the openly expressed sympathy with the Boers from the political association known as the Afrikander Bond, which either inspired or represented the views which prevailed among the great majority of the Dutch inhabitants of Cape Colony.

The men appear to have been chiefly colonial rebels, and not Boers of the backveld, and to that happy chance it may be that the comparative harmlessness of their fire was due.

The competition of younger professionals, of wandering backveld Boers and even of poaching natives who had obtained guns, was growing severe.

At Beira, a Portuguese port through which we have treaty rights by which we may pass troops, a curious mixed force of Australians, New Zealanders and others was being disembarked and pushed through to Rhodesia, so as to cut off any trek which the Boers might make in that direction.

Whilst the Boers were making this daring raid a force consisting of several mobile columns was being organised by General Settle to arrest and finally to repel the western invasion.

The rest of the Boer forces doubled back at night between the columns and escaped over the Zululand border, where 200 of them surrendered.

On April 13th the southern columns were started, but already the British preparations had alarmed the Boers, and Botha, with his main commandos, had slipped south across the line into that very district from which he had been so recently driven.

That the Boers in the field had no doubts as to the good treatment of these people was shown by the fact that they repeatedly left their families in the way of the columns so that they might be conveyed to the camps.

British columns were full cry upon his heels, however, and the Boers after a few hours left the gutted town and vanished into the hills once more.

Two British forces, aided by smaller columns, were endeavouring to surround the Boer leader.

Of all the sixty odd British columns which were traversing the Boer states there was not one which had a better record than that commanded by Colonel Benson.

The Boer force was followed up by two British columns under Kekewich and Fetherstonhaugh.

The blockhouse system had been developed to a very complete extent in the Orange River Colony, and the small bands of Boers found it increasingly difficult to escape from the British columns who were for ever at their heels.

To the south of this line the Boer resistance had practically ceased, although several columns moved continually through it, and gleaned up the broken fragments of the commandos.

But to get to the other side of the Boers it was necessary to march the columns through by night.