On Language on Heck

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Feb 13 12:25:18 UTC 2006

Or, unfamiliar with both "hech" and "heck," she could have written "heck" because that's what it sounded like. Or a proofreader misread Stowe's handwritten "h" for a "k."

  An interesting question is whether "heck" derives from "hech," generalized from an interjection to a noun.


"Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Baker, John"
Subject: Re: On Language on Heck

An interesting and plausible theory, which I overlooked only
because I have never heard of "Hech." Of course, even if the boy did
say "Hech," the way Stowe recorded it shows that she understood it as
the "heck" we know. However, the theory would undercut a British origin
for "heck" (for which I have no evidence, other than this one early

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Douglas G. Wilson
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2006 8:40 PM
Subject: Re: On Language on Heck

> <>university, to Holyrood, to the hospitals, and through many of the
>principal streets, amid shouts, and smiles, and greetings. Some boys
>amused me very much by their pertinacious attempts to keep up with the
> "Heck," says one of them, "that's _her;_ see the _courls_.">>
>1 Stowe, Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands 81 (1854) (via Making of
>America). It is possible, of course, that Stowe chose to use an
>American euphemism for the Scottish boys' actual exclamation.

Or maybe the boy said "Hech" /hEx/, a Scots interjection (= "Heigh").

-- Doug Wilson

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