fout(re) > hoot(er)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Aug 31 21:36:21 UTC 2000

I did a little browsing at the library. I looked at Larry Horn's book but I
didn't have time to read it completely.

I consulted numerous reference books regarding 'fouter'/'hooter'/'hoot'.

Nobody seems to see a connection between 'fouter' and 'hooter'.

The consensus for 'hooter' is 'origin unknown'. 'Hoot' is regarded as a
later form, possibly from 'hooter'. (I'd put that 'very probably' myself!)

I didn't find any citations older than those from the OED.

Two modern references (Partridge and Lighter) quote (without 'accepting')
an 1859 source (Bartlett) to the effect that 'hooter' is a probable
corruption of 'iota'. I guess one has to give some weight to this
conjecture since it was presented closer to the origin of the word. 'Iota'
fits well semantically, better than 'fouter' I think. Phonetically, I find
it considerably less plausible than 'fouter', although perhaps not
impossible. I suppose there could have been conflation too.

'Poot' = 'fart'' would be a plausible connection for 'hoot', but less so in
the context of the earlier 'hooter', IMHO

-- Doug

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