"hook up with"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jan 17 00:42:57 UTC 2013

OK, now I do have access to my HDAS II, and I see that Jon's first specifically sexual cite for _hook up (with)_ = 'become amorously involved with a person…for at least the duration of the evening…"Did you hook up with Debbie last night?"' is provided (with that gloss) in the 1988 edition of Connie Eble's _Campus Slang_.  I'm pretty sure it was around before then at Yale and probably elsewhere, although the exact nature (or degree) of the activities engaged in between the amorous involver/involvee pair can sometimes be…well, underspecified.  Which is where the clones below come in handy.  Unfortunately I would need to find my students' word journals from the late 1980s to confirm how early this had popped up around here, and they're buried under decades of detritus.  (Nominalized _hook-up_ with the relevant meaning is first attested in HDAS in Terri McMillan's 1987 _Breaking Ice_.)

Interestingly, it seems as if the "innocent" meaning of _hook up_ survives for now alongside the value-added one, but perhaps this won't last, given the force of taboo avoidance; cf. the history of "make love" or Fr. "baiser" (v.)


On Jan 16, 2013, at 4:32 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> And I recall one of my undergraduates (male, African-American, not that either is clearly relevant), responding to a problem set query in the late 1980s soliciting real life instances of lexical clones ("No, I wanted a SALAD salad"), reproducing this witnessed exchange:
> A:  Did you hook up?
> B:  Yeah, we hooked up.
> A:  Did you hook UP hook up?
> B: No, we just hooked up hooked up.
> Somewhat later, there was this exchange on a television dramedy:
> A:  “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you slept with Logan. I thought you two just messed around.”
> B:  “No, you said YOU just messed around with him. I said that he and I hooked up.  I meant hooked UP hooked up.”
> A:  “I thought you meant JUST hooked up, like messed around.”
> —dialogue among bridesmaids on Gilmore Girls 3/1/06
> Wonderful language we've got!
> LH
> P.S.  It just occurred to me that Rory Gilmore, who as I recall was A in the second exchange above, attended Yale.  Coincidence?  You decide.
> On Jan 16, 2013, at 2:59 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> On Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 1:36 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
>>> Not originating there, though, as far as I know.  The "hooking up with" part, I mean--for all I know, the foam part of may indeed be unique to Old Blighty (and perhaps explains the Stiff Upper Lip).  The OED entry, at Draft additions December 2005--
>>> to hook up
>>> orig. and chiefly U.S. Cf. sense 4e.
>>> 1. intr. To get married or become involved in a romantic relationship; to engage in sexual activity. Usu. with with.
>>> --doesn't include British entries, FWIW, and I don't have my HDAS H-O on me at the moment, but I would hazard a guess that the sexually enriched (but foamless) "hook up with" sense is U.S. in origin.  It is just a guess, though.
>> A foamed nightclub was featured on CSI in 2003 in the episode, "Lady
>> Heather's Box." Likewise, _hook up with_ "have sex with" precedes even
>> that. I was on the losing end of a discussion here of precisely that
>> meaning as an extension of the older, if not the original, meaning of
>> "hook(-)up," "connect with someone via cellphone, the cellphone
>> itself," as exemplified by the plot of the 1998 neo-blaxploitation
>> movie, I GOT THE HOOK-UP. According to the Christian Movie Guide, this
>> was "… a rank, distasteful, obscenity-laden story of two swindling
>> businessmen who inadvertently pull down an urban drug-dealer,
>> following in the gutter of other black-protagonist, foul comedies such
>> OTOH, IMO, all three were quite entertaining, though somewhat overly
>> farcical, at times.
>> --
>> -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

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

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