"Hoe boy" sent on "westbound to heaven" in NY Times

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 26 16:33:46 UTC 2004

At 7:25 AM -0500 1/26/04, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
>In his later life, he passed out cards defining a hobo as a man who travels
>to work; a tramp as a man who travels and won't work, and a bum as a man who
>won't work. Those are definitions that most hobos accept, but the
>derivation of
>the word hobo is murkier. Many etymologists trace it back to the days after
>the Civil War when traveling men carried hoes with them, and hence were called
>"hoe boys."
>    "Days" after the Civil War?  Sam Clements has traced "hobo" to the late
>1880s.  Sam--write in.
>    "Many etymologists" trace it to "hoe boy"?  Who are they?  Is there one?

Then there are the ones who trace it to "Hopped On Below Ossining".
It doesn't say many *professional* etymologists...


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