- hoar (adj.)
- Old English har "hoary, gray, venerable, old," the connecting notion being gray hair, from Proto-Germanic *haira (cognates: Old Norse harr "gray-haired, old," Old Saxon, Old High German her "distinguished, noble, glorious," German hehr), from PIE *kei- (2), source of color adjectives (see hue (n.1)). German also uses the word as a title of respect, in Herr. Of frost, it is recorded in Old English, perhaps expressing the resemblance of the white feathers of frost to an old man's beard. Used as an attribute of boundary stones in Anglo-Saxon, perhaps in reference to being gray with lichens, hence its appearance in place-names.
- hoard (v.)
- Old English hordian "to hoard," from the root of hoard (n.). Cognate with Old High German gihurten, German gehorden, Gothic huzdjan. Related: Hoarded; hoarding.
- hoard (n.)
- Old English hord "a treasure, valuable stock or store," from Proto-Germanic *huzdam (cognates: Old Saxon hord "treasure, hidden or inmost place," Old Norse hodd, German Hort, Gothic huzd "treasure," literally "hidden treasure"), from PIE root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (see hide (n.1)).
- hoarder (n.)
- Old English hordere "treasurer," from hoard (n.). As "one who gathers and keeps a stock of something," c. 1500, from hoard (v.).
- hoarding (n.)
- "act of getting and storing up," 1590s, verbal noun from hoard (v.).
- hoarfrost (n.)
- "white frost formed by freezing dew," c. 1300, hore-forst; see hoar + frost (n.).
- hoarse (adj.)
- late 14c., hors, earlier hos, from Old English has "hoarse," from Proto-Germanic *haisa- (cognates: Old Saxon hes, Old Norse hass, Dutch hees, Old High German heisi, German heiser "hoarse"), perhaps originally meaning "dried out, rough." The intrusive -r- is difficult to explain; it is first attested c. 1400, but it may indicate an unrecorded Old English variant *hars. It also appears in a variant form in Middle Dutch. Related: Hoarsely; hoarseness.
- hoary (adj.)
- 1510s, "gray or white with age" (of hair); c. 1600 as "venerable, ancient;" from hoar + -y (2). Related: Hoariness.
- 1796 (v.) "ridicule; deceive with a fabrication," 1808 (n.), probably an alteration of hocus "conjurer, juggler" (1630s), also "a cheat, impostor" (1680s); or else directly from hocus-pocus. Related: Hoaxed; hoaxing.
- hob (n.)
- "side of fireplace," 1670s, alteration of hubbe (1510s), of unknown origin, perhaps somehow related to the first element in hobnail.
- hob (n.)
- "clown, prankster," short for hobgoblin (q.v.). Hence, to play (the) hob "make mischief" (by 1834).
- c. 1300, Hobbe, a variant of Rob, diminutive of Robert (compare Hick for Richard, Hodge for Rodger, etc.). Also a generic proper name for one of the common class.
- Hobbesian (adj.)
- 1776, of or resembling the writings of English thinker Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), whose works on political philosophy have a reputation for their bleak outlook on the world. The surname is from Hob. The earlier adjective was Hobbian (1680s).
- Hobbit (n.)
- 1937, coined in the fantasy tales of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973).
On a blank leaf I scrawled: 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.' I did not and do not know why. [Tolkien, letter to W.H. Auden, dated 1955]
The word also turns up in a very long list of folkloric supernatural creatures in the writings of Michael Aislabie Denham (d. 1859) as an aside to his explanation that those born on Christmas Eve cannot see spirits. Denham was an early folklorist who concentrated on Northumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, Cumberland, the Isle of Man, and Scotland. This was printed in volume 2 of "The Denham Tracts" [ed. James Hardy, London: Folklore Society, 1895], a compilation of Denham's scattered publications.
What a happiness this must have been seventy or eighty years ago and upwards, to those chosen few who had the good luck to be born on the eve of this festival of all festivals; when the whole earth was so overrun with ghosts, boggles, bloody-bones, spirits, demons, ignis fatui, brownies, bugbears, black dogs, specters, shellycoats, scarecrows, witches, wizards, barguests, Robin-Goodfellows, hags, night-bats, scrags, breaknecks, fantasms, hobgoblins, hobhoulards, boggy-boes, dobbies, hob-thrusts, fetches, kelpies, warlocks, mock-beggars, mum-pokers, Jemmy-burties, urchins, satyrs, pans, fauns, sirens, tritons, centaurs, calcars, nymphs, imps, incubuses, spoorns, men-in-the-oak, hell-wains, fire-drakes, kit-a-can-sticks, Tom-tumblers, melch-dicks, larrs, kitty-witches, hobby-lanthorns, Dick-a-Tuesdays, Elf-fires, Gyl-burnt-tales, knockers, elves, rawheads, Meg-with-the-wads, old-shocks, ouphs, pad-foots, pixies, pictrees, giants, dwarfs, Tom-pokers, tutgots, snapdragons, sprets, spunks, conjurers, thurses, spurns, tantarrabobs, swaithes, tints, tod-lowries, Jack-in-the-Wads, mormos, changelings, redcaps, yeth-hounds, colt-pixies, Tom-thumbs, black-bugs, boggarts, scar-bugs, shag-foals, hodge-pochers, hob-thrushes, bugs, bull-beggars, bygorns, bolls, caddies, bomen, brags, wraiths, waffs, flay-boggarts, fiends, gallytrots, imps, gytrashes, patches, hob-and-lanthorns, gringes, boguests, bonelesses, Peg-powlers, pucks, fays, kidnappers, gallybeggars, hudskins, nickers, madcaps, trolls, robinets, friars' lanthorns, silkies, cauld-lads, death-hearses, goblins, hob-headlesses, bugaboos, kows, or cowes, nickies, nacks necks, waiths, miffies, buckies, ghouls, sylphs, guests, swarths, freiths, freits, gy-carlins Gyre-carling, pigmies, chittifaces, nixies, Jinny-burnt-tails, dudmen, hell-hounds, dopple-gangers, boggleboes, bogies, redmen, portunes, grants, hobbits, hobgoblins, brown-men, cowies, dunnies, wirrikows, alholdes, mannikins, follets, korreds, lubberkins, cluricauns, kobolds, leprechauns, kors, mares, korreds, puckles korigans, sylvans, succubuses, blackmen, shadows, banshees, lian-hanshees, clabbernappers, Gabriel-hounds, mawkins, doubles, corpse lights or candles, scrats, mahounds, trows, gnomes, sprites, fates, fiends, sibyls, nicknevins, whitewomen, fairies, thrummy-caps, cutties, and nisses, and apparitions of every shape, make, form, fashion, kind and description, that there was not a village in England that had not its own peculiar ghost. Nay, every lone tenement, castle, or mansion-house, which could boast of any antiquity had its bogle, its specter, or its knocker. The churches, churchyards, and crossroads were all haunted. Every green lane had its boulder-stone on which an apparition kept watch at night. Every common had its circle of fairies belonging to it. And there was scarcely a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit!
[Emphasis added] It is curious that the name occurs nowhere else in folklore, and there is no evidence that Tolkien ever saw this. The word also was recorded from 1835 as "a term generally used in Wales to express a quantity made up of four Welsh pecks" [in English court records for Hughes vs. Humphreys, a weights-and-measures case from Wales]. Hobbitry attested from 1947.
- hobble (v.)
- c. 1300, hoblen "to rock back and forth, toss up and down," probably from or cognate with dialectal German hoppeln, Dutch hobbelen "toss, ride on a hobby-horse; stutter, stammer" (which, however, is not recorded before late 15c.). Or perhaps a variant frequentative of hop (v.).
Meaning "to walk lamely" is from c. 1400. Transitive sense of "tie the legs (of an animal)" to impede or prevent free motion first recorded 1831, probably an alteration of 16c. hopple, cognate with Flemish hoppelen "to rock, jump," which also is related to Dutch hobbelen. Sense of "hamper, hinder" is c. 1870. Related: Hobbled; hobbling.
- hobble (n.)
- 1727, "a hobbling gait," from hobble (v.). From 1775 as "something that hobbles."
- hobbledehoy (n.)
- "clumsy or awkward youth," 1530s, of uncertain origin and the subject of much discussion. Suspicion has focused on French or Anglo-French, but no appropriate word has been found there. First element is probably hob in its sense of "clown, prankster" (see hobgoblin), the second element perhaps is Middle French de haye "worthless, untamed, wild," literally "of the hedge."
- hobby (n.)
- c. 1400, hobi, "small, active horse," short for hobyn (mid-14c.; late 13c. in Anglo-Latin), probably originally a proper name for a horse (compare dobbin), a diminutive of Robert or Robin. Old French hobi, hobin, once considered possible sources, now are held to be borrowings from English.
The modern sense of "a favorite pursuit, object, or topic" is from 1816, a shortening of hobbyhorse (q.v.) in this sense, which is attested from 1670s. Earlier it meant "a wooden or wickerwork figure of a horse," as a child's toy or a costume in the morris dance, the connecting notion being "activity that doesn't go anywhere." Hobby as a shortening of hobbyhorse also was used in the "morris horse" sense (1760) and the "child's toy horse" sense (1680s).
- hobbyhorse (n.)
- also hobby-horse, 1550s, "mock horse used in the morris dance;" 1580s, "child's toy riding horse," from hobby (n.) + horse (n.). Transferred sense of "favorite pastime or avocation" first recorded 1670s (shortened to hobby by 1816). The connecting notion being "activity that doesn't go anywhere."
The hobbyhorse originally was a "Tourney Horse," a wooden or basketwork frame worn around the waist and held on with shoulder straps, with a fake tail and horse head attached, so the wearer appears to be riding a horse. These were part of church and civic celebrations at Midsummer and New Year's throughout England.
- hobbyist (n.)
- "one devoted to some pursuit for the delight of it," 1830, from hobby + -ist. Hobbyism is recorded from 1846.
- hobgoblin (n.)
- 1520s, from hob "elf," from Hobbe, a variant of Rob (see Hob), short for Robin Goodfellow, elf character in German folklore, + goblin. Mischievous sprite, hence "something that causes fear or disquiet" (1709).
- hobnail (n.)
- "short, thick nail with a large head," 1590s, from nail (n.); the first element probably identical with hob "rounded peg or pin used as a mark or target in games" (1580s), which is of unknown origin. See hob. Because they were used to make heavy boots and shoes, the word was used figuratively for "rustic person" 17c. and after. Related: Hobnailed.
- hobnob (v.)
- 1763, "to drink to each other," from hob and nob (1756) "to toast each other by turns, to buy alternate rounds of drinks," alteration of hab nab "to have or have not, hit or miss" (c. 1550), which is probably ultimately from Old English habban, nabban "have, not have," (that is, "to take or not take," used later as an invitation to drinking), with the negative particle ne- attached, as was customary (see have). Modern sense of "socialize" is 1866. Related: Hobnobbed; hobnobbing.
- hobo (n.)
- "a tramp," 1889, Western U.S., of unknown origin. Barnhart compares early 19c. English dialectal hawbuck "lout, clumsy fellow, country bumpkin." Or possibly from ho, boy, a workers' call on late 19c. western U.S. railroads. Facetious formation hobohemia, "community or life of hobos," is from 1923 (see bohemian).
- city in New Jersey, U.S., birthplace of Frank Sinatra, named by 17c. Dutch settlers for a village in modern Belgium that is now a suburb of Antwerp.
- Hobson's choice (n.)
- English university slang term, supposedly a reference to Thomas Hobson (c. 1544-1631), Cambridge stable manager who let horses and gave customers a choice of the horse next in line or none at all. Phrase popularized c. 1660 by Milton, who was at Cambridge from 1625-29.
- 1690s, hossen gossen, said to have been British soldiers' mangled Englishing of the Arabic cry they heard at Muharram processions in India, Ya Hasan! Ya Husayn! ("O Hasan! O Husayn!"), mourning two descendants of the Prophet who were important in Shiite history. It was the title of Yule & Burnell's 1886 glossary of Anglo-Indian words, and thence was taken by linguists in naming the law of Hobson-Jobson (1898), describing the effort to bring a new and strange word into harmony with the language.
- Latin, literally "this."
- hock (n.1)
- "joint in the hind leg of a horse or other quadruped," corresponding to the ankle-joint in man, mid-15c., earlier hockshin (late 14c.), from Old English hohsinu "sinew of the heel, Achilles' tendon," literally "heel sinew," from Old English hoh "heel" (in compounds, such as hohfot "heel"), from Proto-Germanic *hanhaz (cognates: German Hachse "hock," Old English hæla "heel"), from PIE *kenk- (3) "heel, bend of the knee" (see heel (n.1)).
- hock (n.2)
- "Rhenish wine," 1620s, shortening of Hockamore, a corrupt Anglicization of German Hochheimer, "(wine) of Hochheim" (literally "high-home"), town on the Main where wine was made; sense extended to German white wines in general.
- hock (n.3)
- "pawn, debt," 1859, American English, in hock, which meant both "in debt" and "in prison," from Dutch hok "jail, pen, doghouse, hutch, hovel," in slang use, "credit, debt."
When one gambler is caught by another, smarter than himself, and is beat, then he is in hock. Men are only caught, or put in hock, on the race-tracks, or on the steamboats down South. ... Among thieves a man is in hock when he is in prison. [G.W. Matsell, "Vocabulum," 1859]
- hock (v.)
- "to pawn," 1878, from hock (n.3). Related: Hocked; hocking.
- hockey (n.)
- ball game played with a curved stick or club, 1527, implied in a document from Ireland ("The horlinge of the litill balle with hockie stickes or staves ..."), of unknown origin. Perhaps related to Middle French hoquet "shepherd's staff, crook," diminutive of Old French hoc "hook." The hooked clubs with which the game is played resemble shepherds' staves. In North America, ice hockey is distinguished from field hockey, but hockey alone can mean either. Also known as shinny or shinty.
- hocus-pocus (interj.)
- magical formula used in conjuring, 1630s, earlier Hocas Pocas, common name of a magician or juggler (1620s); a sham-Latin invocation used by jugglers, perhaps based on a perversion of the sacramental blessing from the Mass, Hoc est corpus meum "This is my body." The first to make this speculation on its origin apparently was English prelate John Tillotson (1630-1694).
I will speak of one man ... that went about in King James his time ... who called himself, the Kings Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus, and so was called, because that at the playing of every Trick, he used to say, Hocus pocus, tontus tabantus, vade celeriter jubeo, a dark composure of words, to blinde the eyes of the beholders, to make his Trick pass the more currantly without discovery. [Thomas Ady, "A Candle in the Dark," 1655]
Compare hiccus doccius or hiccus doctius, "formula used by jugglers in performing their feats" (1670s), also a common name for a juggler, which OED says is "conjectured to be a corruption of" Latin hicce es doctus "here is the learned man," "if not merely a nonsense formula simulating Latin." Also compare holus-bolus (adv.) "all at a gulp, all at once," which Century Dictionary calls "A varied redupl. of whole, in sham-Latin form." As a noun meaning "juggler's tricks," hocus-pocus is recorded from 1640s.
- hod (n.)
- "portable trough for carrying bricks, mortar, etc.," 1570s, alteration of Middle English hott "pannier" (c. 1300), from Old French hotte "basket to carry on the back," apparently from Frankish *hotta or some other Germanic source (compare Middle High German hotze "cradle"). Altered by influence of cognate Middle Dutch hodde "basket."
- late 14c. as a familiar form of Rodger/Roger.
- hodge-podge (n.)
- see hodgepodge.
- hodgepodge (n.)
- also hodge podge, hodge-podge, early 15c., hogpoch, alteration of hotchpotch (late 14c.) "a kind of stew," especially "one made with goose, herbs, spices, wine, and other ingredients," earlier an Anglo-French legal term meaning "collection of property in a common 'pot' before dividing it equally" (late 13c.), from Old French hochepot "stew, soup." First element from hocher "to shake," from a Germanic source (such as Middle High German hotzen "shake").
- Hodgkin's disease
- 1877, named for English pathologist Dr. Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866) who first described it in 1832.
- hodman (n.)
- "hod-carrier," 1580s, from hod + man (n.).
- hoe (n.)
- "implement for digging, scraping, or loosening earth," mid-14c., from Old French houe (12c.), from Frankish *hauwa, from Proto-Germanic *hawwan (cognates: Old High German houwa "hoe, mattock, pick-axe," German Haue), from PIE *kau- "to hew, strike" (see hew).
- hoe (v.)
- early 15c., "to clear weeds with a hoe," from hoe (n.). Tedious and toilsome work, hence a hard (or long) row to hoe "a difficult task;" hoe (one's) own row "tend to one's affairs." Related: Hoed; hoeing.
- hoe-cake (n.)
- also hoecake, 1745, American English, said to be so called because it originally was baked on the broad thin blade of a cotton-field hoe (n.). "In the interior parts of the country, where kitchen utensils do not abound, they are baked on a hoe; hence the name" [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848].
- hoedown (n.)
- "noisy dance," 1841, Southern U.S., apparently originally the name of a specific dance, perhaps from perceived similarity of dance motions to those of farm chores, hence from hoe (n.).
The step of every negro dance that was ever known, was called into requisition and admirably executed. They performed the "double shuffle," the "Virginny break-down," the "Kentucky heeltap," the "pigeon wing," the "back balance lick," the "Arkansas hoe down," with unbounded applause and irresistible effect. ["Scouting Expeditions of McCulloch's Texas Rangers," 1848]
"Hoe corn, hill tobacco" is noted as a line in the chorus of a slave song in 1838, and Washington Irving writes of a dance called "hoe corn and dig potatoes" in 1807.
The same precedence is repeated until all the merchandise is disposed of, the table is then banished the room, and the whole party hoe it down in straight fours and set dances, till the hour when "ghosts wandering here and there, troop home to church-yards." This is what we kintra folk call a strauss. ["Der Teufelskerl. A Tale of German Pennsylvania," in "Burton's Gentleman's Magazine," January 1840]
- hoer (n.)
- 1740s, agent noun from hoe (v.).
- hog (v.)
- "to appropriate greedily," 1884, U.S. slang (first attested in "Huck Finn"), from hog (n.). Earlier it meant "Cause to form a horizontal arch" (like the back of a hog), 1798, and "cut a horse's mane short" (so it bristles like a hog's back), 1769. Related: Hogged; hogging.
- hog (n.)
- mid-14c., hogge, but probably in Old English (implied late 12c. in hogaster), "a swine," especially a castrated male, "swine reared for slaughter" (usually about a year old), also used by stockmen for "young sheep before the first shearing" (early 14c.) and for "horse older than one year," suggesting the original sense had to do with age, not type of animal. Possibility of British Celtic origin [Watkins, etc.] is regarded by OED as "improbable."
Extended to the wild boar by late 15c. As a term of opprobrium for a greedy or gluttonous person, c. 1400. Meaning "Harley-Davidson motorcycle" is attested from 1967. Road hog is attested from 1886, hence hog "rude person heedless of the convenience or safety of others" (1906). To go hog-wild is American English from 1904. Hog in armor "awkward or clumsy person in ill-fitting attire" is from 1650s (later used of the armadillo).
Phrase to go the whole hog (1828, American English) is sometimes said to be from the butcher shop option of buying the whole slaughtered animal (at a discount) rather than just the choice bits. But it is perhaps rather from the allegorical story (recorded in English from 1779) of Muslim sophists, forbidden by their faith from eating a certain unnamed part of the hog, who debated which part was intended and managed to exempt the whole of it from the prohibition.
[Had he the sinful part express'd,
They might, with safety, eat the rest.
But for one piece, they thought it hard,
From the whole hog to be debarr'd
And set their wits to work, to find
What joint the prophet had in mind.]
[Cowper, "The Love of the World Reproved"]
- hog-pen (n.)
- 1630s, American English, from hog (n.) + pen (n.2).
- hog-reeve (n.)
- official charged with preventing or appraising damage done by stray swine, 1759, American English, from hog (n.) + reeve (n.). In New England, an elected town officer, still chosen in jest in some places long after his office had ceased to function.
- hog-tie (v.)
- also hogtie, "bind hands and feet by crossing and tying them," 1887, from hog (n.) + tie (v.). Related: Hog-tied.