"hook up with"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Jan 17 01:28:20 UTC 2013

On Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 7:42 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> 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_.)

FWIW, when we discussed this, um, seven years ago, you thought that
1988 was about when "hooking up" started showing up in your students'


I'd say it was definitely in use at Yale when I arrived as an
undergrad in '88 -- can't speak to earlier years. (And sadly, though I
did take transformational grammar with Larry, I missed out on his
"Words" class, so I never kept a journal.)


Ben Zimmer

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

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