Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Apr 6 00:40:35 UTC 2005

On Tue, 5 Apr 2005 20:06:39 -0400, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU> wrote:

>Here's a posting to a "Deadwood" fan forum:
>I've seen two pretty strong arguments for references to Dutch immigrants
>in the Dakota territories who were barrel makers and coincidentally wore
>large brim hats.
>No idea where the poster is getting the information about Dutch
>barrelmakers, though Dutch "hoepel" does mean '(barrel) hoop'.  See also
>this HDAS cite listed under def. 1 of "hoople" ('finger ring'):
>     1848 Bartlett _Amer._ 180: (Dutch, _hoepel_.) The boys in the
>     city of New York still retain the Dutch name _hoople_ for a hoop.

Sorry, the above quote about Dutch immigrants is not actually from a
"Deadwood" fan forum, but it seems to be referencing discussion in the HBO

> Does anybody know the etymology for the term
> "hoople-head"? I did a search and there's a lot of
> Mott the Hoople websites, but there's also a city
> called Hoople in North Dakota. I wonder if the folks
> in Hoople were regarded as having sub-par
> intelligence and it became a sort of slur, such as
> "redneck" or "trailer trash"?
> Sarah

According to the <a
href="http://www.merrycoz.org/voices/bartlett/AMER07.HTM#h">Dictionary of
Americanisms (1848)</a> a Hoople (or hoepel) is a Dutch word for a hoop
and became a pejorative for Dutch immigrants.

But the Dictionary of Americanisms doesn't say anything about "hoople"
being "a pejorative for Dutch immigrants", just that it was used to mean
"hoop" and derived from Dutch "hoepel" (see the HDAS cite).  Not that it
*couldn't* have been used pejoratively towards the Dutch, but I think that
might be a leap of logic by the "Deadwood" fans.  (Swearengen referred to
Sofia's family as "the hoopleheads", but I believe they're Swedes.)

--Ben Zimmer

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