"implement for digging, scraping, or loosening earth," mid-14c., from Old French houe (12c.), from Frankish *hauwa, from Proto-Germanic *hawwan (source also of Old High German houwa "hoe, mattock, pick-axe," German Haue), from PIE *kau- "to hew, strike" (see hew).
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.
updated on August 01, 2015