[Ads-l] "hooker" meaning "prostitute"

dave@wilton.net dave at WILTON.NET
Thu Sep 23 20:30:41 EDT 2021


Since I posted that message back in May, I've had a chance to read the entire article. In full context, "hooker" here implies prostitute, although all of the uses of the "hook" can be read to refer to other senses of the word. The entire exchange is wordplay (and likely invented by the paper's editors) based on "hooker" meaning prostitute.
 
 
-----Original Message-----
From: "Jonathan Lighter" <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2021 8:16pm
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "hooker" meaning "prostitute"



I've read this in countless pulp westerns. I've never heard it, though.

JL

On Thu, Sep 23, 2021 at 7:54 PM Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:

> > both _on_ ‘em
>
> FWIW, this style of construction - the use of _on_, instead of _of_ with
> numerics - is/was? the "standard" among black speakers in Marshall, Texas.
> Since Marshall was the *only* place that I ever heard this use, until about
> a dekkid ago, when I finally had occasion to see this construction in
> print, I lived under the impression that black Marshallites were, in fact,
> saying "of" and I was, somehow, just mishearing it.
>
> On Mon, May 3, 2021 at 8:05 AM dave at wilton.net <dave at wilton.net> wrote:
>
> >
> > When you read that citation in its full context, it is clear that
> > prostitute is not what is intended. "Hook" and "hooker" are being used in
> > multiple senses here: marriage, scratching with one's nails, and
> Corlear's
> > hook.
> >
> > Wit. – Oh, no, sir: I don’t mean that as anything loose passed between
> us.
> >
> > Mag. – I didn’t say there was, but I want to know what you mean by using
> > you ill. There are so many methods of using a man ill: for instance, she
> > might have promised to marry you, and then declared the match off,
> Without
> > paying you “forfeit”; that would have been using you ill.
> >
> > Wit. – Oh, no, sir; I never should have thought of hooking on to the
> likes
> > of her, no how; she’s got too many nails on her fingers for me, and
> they’re
> > all of them as hooked as a cat’s claws, and she came very near hooking my
> > eye out with ’em, and I got but one eye; ’tother was blowed out by a gun
> > barrel bursting; and ven a feller has got but one eye, I don’t call that
> no
> > kind of behavior, no how, to try to hook out both on ‘em, so as to make
> him
> > totumly blind on both sides of his head. That’s what I calls using a
> feller
> > ill.
> >
> > Mag. – What did you try to hook out his eye for?
> >
> > Pris. – ’Cause he called me a hooker, and so I thought I might as well
> > earn my name as well.
> >
> > Mag. – What did he call you hooker for?
> >
> > Wit. – ’Cause she allers hangs round the hook, your honner.
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: "George Thompson" <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> > Sent: Sunday, May 2, 2021 7:27pm
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "hooker" meaning "prostitute"
> >
> >
> >
> > I posted the following to the group perhaps 20 years ago. It led to an
> > exchange of emails with Prof. Maher that became sufficiently acrimonious
> > that I invited him to stop, assuring him that I would delete future
> emails
> > unopened and unread.
> >
> > Pris. -- . . . he called me a *hooker*. . . .
> >
> > Mag. -- What did you call her a hooker for?
> >
> > Wit. -- 'Cause she allers hangs round the hook, your honner.
> >
> > New York Transcript, September 25, 1835, p. 2, col. 4
> >
> > I suppose I will concede that this does not make it explicit that
> "hooker"
> > meant "prostitute", but clearly it was a term of abuse when addressed to
> a
> > woman.
> > I also think that the Witness was a folk etymologist. The Hook was an
> area
> > of NYC frequented by sailors on shore and others seeking low life, but
> > still, I think it's as likely, at least, that a "hooker" was a woman who,
> > like a fisherman -- fisherperson, that is -- lures poor innocent men into
> > improper doings.
> >
> > GAT
> >
> > On Sun, May 2, 2021 at 3:29 PM James Landau <
> > 00000c13e57d49b8-dmarc-request at listserv.uga.edu> wrote:
> >
> > > Thomas P. Lowry MD _The Stories the Soldiers Wouldn't Tell: Six in the
> > > Civil War_Mechanicsburg PA: Stackpoloe Books, 1994, ISBN for the
> > paperback
> > > edition 978-0-8117-1153-1
> > > A partial version of this book is available on Google Books. Search on
> > > "were called hookers".
> > > extracts from page 147 (apparently this is the page number in the
> > > paperback edition)
> > > <begin quote>The 1976 _Supplement to the OED_ lists the word ["hooker"]
> > as
> > > American slang for prositute, giving its earliest use as
> > 1845.<snip>William
> > > Craigie's 1942 _Dictionary of American English_ cities [sic] the
> > Corlear's
> > > Hook area of New York City, where houses of ill fame were
> > > concentrated...Craigie found "hooker" as a term for prostitute in use
> in
> > > 1859 [3]<snip>A University of North Caroline professor has found an
> 1845
> > > letter written by a student to a classmate, using "hooker" in the sense
> > of
> > > prostitute [5]<snip>The 1968 Dictionary of the Underword, published in
> > > London, gives the same derivation ass Craigie, and cites the source as
> > > Bartlett's Americanism, published in 1859.<end quote>
> > > Unfortunately the page containing footnotes [3] and [5] is not
> available
> > > from Google Books. Anybody with better library access than I is welcome
> > to
> > > further research the above.
> > > Dr. Lowry also discusses, without endorsing it, the legend that
> > > prostitutes were called "hookers" after Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker, a
> > > less-than-outstanding Union general in the Civil War. I might add that
> > the
> > > existence of this legend, whether true or false, us evidence that
> > "hooker"
> > > was a well-known term for prostitute in the Civil War era, as this
> legend
> > > certainly antedates Xaviera Hollander's book.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > James Landau
> > > jjjrlandau at netscape.com
> > >
> > > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > > The American Dialect Society -
> > >
> >
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=DwIFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=v2Wtu7DQZxSBMSJv-oEMNg&m=nOO9i5KXgOSNUY9FbkBHjSGyFpaUhRv5iSPdWSpRVbM&s=MA6S4GqOxS9QWotobxb2k1WJg-oFO09AKRr0tQa-yAw&e=
> > >
> >
> >
> > --
> > George A. Thompson
> > Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> > Univ. Pr., 1998.
> >
> > But when aroused at the Trump of Doom / Ye shall start, bold kings, from
> > your lowly tomb. . .
> > L. H. Sigourney, "Burial of Mazeen", Poems. Boston, 1827, p. 112
> >
> > The Trump of Doom -- also known as The Dunghill Toadstool. (Here's a
> > picture of his great-grandfather.)
> >
> >
> http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/artwork/james-gillray/an-excrescence---a-fungus-alias-a-toadstool-upon-a-dunghill/3851
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
>
>
> --
> - Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>


-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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