Etymology
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honky-tonk (n.)

"cheap night club," by 1893, American English, of unknown origin. It starts to appear frequently about 1893 in newspapers in Texas and Oklahoma; a much-reprinted snippet defines it as "a particularly vicious and low-grade theater." In the Fort Worth, Texas, "Gazette" in 1889 it seems to be the name of a particular theater, and the Marshall, Texas, "Messenger" of May 27, 1892, mentions the "Honk-E-Tonk district" as "the most disreputable part of town." As a type of music played in that sort of low saloon, it is attested by 1921.

updated on January 29, 2020

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