A 19th-century gouache painting by an unidentified Indian artist of a camel, perhaps being ridden by a soldier[n 1]

Borrowed from Hindi ऊँट (ū̃ṭ) / Urdu اُونْٹ(ūnṭ, camel), Sauraseni Prakrit 𑀉𑀝𑁆𑀝 (uṭṭa), from Sanskrit उष्ट्र (uṣṭra, camel), from Proto-Indo-Iranian *úštras (camel; buffalo).



oont (plural oonts)

  1. (British India (Anglo-Indian), Australia, colloquial) A camel. [from 19th c.]
    • 1892, Rudyard Kipling, “Oonts (North India Transport Train)”, in Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses, 3rd edition, London: Methuen & Co. [], →OCLC, page 27:
      Wot makes the soldier's 'eart to penk, wot makes 'im to perspire? / It isn't standin' up to charge nor lyin' down to fire; / But it's everlastin' waitin' on an everlastin' road / For the commissariat camel an' 'is commissariat load. / O the oont [footnote: Camel:—oo is pronounced like u as in 'bull,' but by Mr. Atkins to rhyme with 'front.'], O the oont, O the commissariat oont! / With 'is silly neck a-bobbin' like a basket full o' snakes; / We packs 'im like an idol, an' you ought to 'ear 'im grunt, / An' when we gets 'im loaded up 'is blessed girth-rope breaks.
    • 1914, Percival Christopher Wren, “Vultures and Luck—Good and Bad”, in Snake and Sword: A Novel, London; New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co. [], →OCLC, part III (The Saving of a Soul), page 308:
      Very badly wounded man—inaccessible position—stretcher-parties all out of sight—aeroplane can't land for any first-aid nor to pick up the casualty—excellent problem and demonstration. That oont [footnote: Camel.] will simplify it, though. [...] You bring the beast up—you'll be able to ride most of the way if you zig-zag, and lead him most of the rest. Then you'll have to carry the casualty to the oont and bring him down.
    • 1969, C. L Proudfoot, “All about Oonts”, in The LOH (Lady of the House), Bombay: Thacker, →OCLC, page 78:
      Ugliness must not be confused with inutility. Most parts of Northern India and Jammu are infested with Oonts and in the dry sandy regions of Rajasthan and Kutch Oonts proliferate.
    • 1976, Tom McKnight, “Introduction”, in Friendly Vermin: A Survey of Feral Livestock in Australia (University of California Publications in Geography; 21), Berkeley; Los Angeles, Calif.; London: University of California Press, →ISBN, page 7:
      [M]ost people are aware of their presence, and are likely to harbor opinions (mostly negative) about feral livestock. A few words pertaining to these animals have been coined or adopted to enrich the national vocabulary. [...] Oont, an appellation for camel, was introduced from British India in the nineteenth century and is now of historical interest only.
    • 2004, James Macdonald, “Tribals”, in Visions of Snows: A Tale of Highlanders and War, Hertford, Hertfordshire: Authors OnLine, →ISBN, page 128:
      'It's a trap!' A furious Goad shouted to the Highlanders: 'Bastards knew it was coming! Grab an oont, lads, one each, lead 'em on!' Seizing headropes they began hauling their animals towards the defile mouth. Gripping the halter just under his camel's jaw to avoid being bitten Colin was nearly swung off his feet as blood ran from its flank. Bullet – or flying chip of rock?
    • 2010, John Borthwick, “The Charge of the Vindaloonies”, in Summer in Siam: Tales of Thai and Other Lands, 2nd extended ebook edition, [Bangkok]: Bangkok Book House, →ISBN, page 178:
      A baggage camel is expected to carry from 220 to 270 kilograms. Ours are bearing less than half that, yet all day long they whinge like the sound of their own name in Marwari language, the onomatopoeic "oont". [...] And I can't hear the dashboard clock just his graphically salacious gurglings whenever Rocky [a camel] is down-whiff of a female oont.
    • 2014, S. Hussain Zaidi, “Despair in Dubai”, in My Name is Abu Salem, Gurgaon, Haryana, India: Penguin Books India, →ISBN:
      The young man managed to get a small place for himself at Yusuf Bakar Road in a suburb of Dubai which he shared with three aides of Anis Ibrahim. It was located in the Oont Bazaar (Camel Market) area and was separated from Dubai proper by a creek. Oont Bazaar had been set up in the early 1970s as a market for the sale of cattle. Since camels were the most popular form of cattle in this part of the world, the market became their fiefdom, so to speak.


  1. ^ From the collection of the Wellcome Library, London, UK.

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