hoe, and -down in the OED

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Feb 6 17:15:53 UTC 2014

At 2/6/2014 09:27 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>OTOH, if I were a big-city teen in an apartment, how  would I know what the
>hell a "hoe" was? They don't talk about 'em in movies or sing about 'em in

Unless one was into folk song and dance.

Songs:  "Hard row to hoe."
      "Hoe boys hoe!"  [Chorus in "Tearing out-a wilderness"]
      "Hoe down in the ash grove."

Dance:  The "hoe down".
      OED definition definitely needs amendment:  "A noisy riotous
dance."  (The quotations give the appearance that after first
publication in 1899, quotations were added without noticing that the
meaning had changed.)  E.g, visualize the scene described in the 1961
quotation: "The hoe-down sequence in Seven Brides for Seven
Brothers."  Wikipedia is more like it: "A hoedown is a type of
American folk dance or square dance in duple meter, and also the
musical form associated with it."  Although I perceive "hoedown" also
as extended to the gathering as a whole (like "dance" as an assembly).


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

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