hoe-down not in DARE

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 8 16:05:16 UTC 2014

Holy moo-cow, man! You don't know the difference between a hoedown and a

The lowdown on hoedown: A hoedown is indeed a lively dancing party but,
except figuratively, not every lively dancing party is a hoedown.  The
typical hoedown is/was highly informal and takes/took place in the rural
districts of the USA  or , in the C&W Age, elsewhere and features country
or old-time music and/or square-dancing.

Of course, for many city slickers, "the country" is virtually synonymous
with "way down South or way out West." Hence the notion that "hoedown" is a
rural term.

A hootenanny, OTOH, as HDAS will tell you, is a term introduced to the wide
world by the late Pete Seeger. Typically it involves a series of performers
of old-time or commercial "folk" music taking turns before an audience,
which is encouraged to sing along on the choruses.

Wonkypedia's claim that "hootenanny" is an old Scottish word for
"celebration" is typical enthusiast bull.

HDAS also suggests that "hoedown," n., derives from "hoe it down," to dance
a particular sort of step.


On Sat, Feb 8, 2014 at 12:35 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: hoe-down not in DARE
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 2/8/2014 12:10 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> >On Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 11:53 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
> >... 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."
> Lack of understanding?  :-)
> Joel
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