hoe-down not in DARE

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 8 05:10:54 UTC 2014

On Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 11:53 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
> On Feb 7, 2014, at 8:12 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 4:58 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
>>> It's not regional, but rather used everywhere.
>> Well, I haven't been everywhere. But, where I have been, "hoe-down" is
>> familiar. OTOH, I have no idea what, precisely, a hoe-down is. If the point
>> is that the term has an exact meaning, beyond "a kind of party with music
>> and dancing," that is known only regionally, well, based only on my own
>> experience, then I grant the possibility that "hoe-down" is a regional term
>> that ought to be included in DARE, like "snake-doctor."
> This is pretty much what I think. I wouldn't be able to distinguish a hoe-down
> from a hootenanny (if there is one), and have no idea whether a rave qualifies
> as either, but if you tell me you went to a hoe-down, I know that you went to a
> place where people were dancing, and that was probably a rural get-together.
> I assume there are regions where people know the precise meaning of this term.

That was also probably Paul McCartney's understanding of the term when
he was looking for a rhyme for "showdown" in "Rocky Raccoon."


Ben Zimmer

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

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