ho 'whore' (What Santa Claus might say in some dialects?)

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue Oct 8 16:21:06 UTC 2013

I teach a one-hour-per-week freshman seminar called "Lore and Language of College Life."  Yesterday a student had introduced the expression (proverb? folk belief? jocularly-pretended folk belief?) "The bigger the O, the bigger the ho."  ("O," btw, means 'circular dangling ear-ring').

As a coda to that discussion, one student inquired, with wide eyes, "Where does that word 'ho' come from?"  A couple of other students also expressed curiosity.  (They all knew the word "ho," of course.)  I could hardly believe that the etymology of "ho" has become opaque so quickly!

A further note:  Googling, I discover that the spelling "hoe" (in the expression) is far more common than "ho"--perhaps further indicating the loss of the sense that "ho" (so spelled) comes from "whore."  Unless I'm missing some arcane agricultural sense of the expression . . . .


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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