[Ads-l] Query about "hobo"

David Barnhart dbarnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM
Mon Mar 14 23:27:29 UTC 2016


Here is the gist of the entry in The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology (c.
1988):

*hobo*, *n*. person who wanders about, living by doing odd jobs.  1889
American English, of uncertain origin; (the earliest quotations capitalize
the word and refer to it as the tramp's name for himself), Compare
dialectal English _*hawbuck*_ clumsy fellow, lout, country bumpkin (1805)
and _*hawbaw*_ clumsy or coarse fellow, lout (1857), which may be
forerunners of _*hobo*_.

David

On Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 4:32 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Query about "hobo"
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> I wonder if Norm Cohen is familiar with Jon's interesting if admittedly =
> non-definitive etymological note at "hobo" in HDAS II; that *is* more =
> recent than 1981, in any case. =20
>
> LH
>
>
> > On Mar 14, 2016, at 2:54 PM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at MST.EDU> =
> wrote:
> >=20
> > I've received a request from researcher Norm Cohen (no relation)=20
> > about the origin of "hobo," and I offered to share his request with
> > ads-l.  If anyone can help, please contact Norm directly and also
> > please share the information with the entire listserv.
> >=20
> > His request appears beneath my signoff.
> >=20
> > Gerald Cohen
> >=20
> > [from N. Cohen]:
> > "In 1981, in my book on American railroad songs, "Long Steel Rail," I
> > reported what was then known about the origins of the word "hobo."  Is
> > anyone aware of any information that has since come to  light on the
> > subject?  Norm Cohen, ncohen at teleport.com."
> >=20
> > Thanks,
> > Norm
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