"Hooking Up"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed May 21 18:14:00 UTC 2008

At 1:24 PM -0400 5/21/08, Marc Velasco wrote:
>Assuming here you mean the orign of 'hooking up' as in sexual
>encounter (since that's mostly what undergrads are interested in).
>For non-sexiness, the OED has it going back to 1925 (but even then the
>usage already predicts the transactional nature of the meaning to
>Places to look:
>** Start here: William Safire:
>Safire dates the terms mainstreaming to 1995.
>Personally, I'd say the cotemporaneous drug-dealer usage (exemplified
>here by Master P) helped give the term some street cred, or currency,
>or whatever you want to call it, that helped the term 'hook-up'
>win-out over whatever other terms were competing for that meaning
>(sexual encounter) at the time.
>Master P: http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=1530461
>Tom Wolfe, the Charlotte Simmons novel, and apparently a collection of
>essays, neither of which I've read
>>>From what I've heard, Wolfe doesn't particularly focus on the origin
>of the term, but on the entire undergraduate social scene that has
>been built around the term (or at least the practice which it
>I know it was popular for East Coast schools, but I'm wondering how
>much play the term got out west?
>That should get you started.  After that, I'd interview alums that
>went to school during the 1990's to see when it was introduced, how it
It was extremely extant at Yale by the very early 1990s, to judge
from the number of its appearances in the New Words journals my
students submitted.  In a paper I published in 1993, I included this
memorable dialogue contributed by one of my undergraduates
[African-American male, if that's relevant] in response to an
assignment on what I was then calling doubles and now call lexical
clones.  (Note the ambiguity, or underspecification, of the term as
illustrated here.)

A:  Did you hook up?
B:  Yeah, we hooked up.
A:  Did you hook UP hook up?
B:  No, we just hooked up hooked up.


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