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

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon May 3 09:07:40 EDT 2021


Dave Wilton --

Thanks.

Where did you find the Transcript?  Is it on line somewhere?  If I recall,
I saw it on paper at the N-Y Historical Society, which I now can't get to
easily.  Its library may now be open anyway, these days, of course.

GAT

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.)
>
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.parliament.uk_worksofart_artwork_james-2Dgillray_an-2Dexcrescence-2D-2D-2Da-2Dfungus-2Dalias-2Da-2Dtoadstool-2Dupon-2Da-2Ddunghill_3851&d=DwIFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=v2Wtu7DQZxSBMSJv-oEMNg&m=Gu6-NfE9ZGAH2_zuFsPvrBMDsicwxnaCZg4T1nHDmL0&s=b2Q1yIhlSnB2bnQvLb1r6k6brhgZChWjDNVGDly9WpI&e=
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> 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=Gu6-NfE9ZGAH2_zuFsPvrBMDsicwxnaCZg4T1nHDmL0&s=q3ePWqyXyLUg7Oldq49t1qGLK2YKxgtfTbhCnQNwX54&e=
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> 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=Gu6-NfE9ZGAH2_zuFsPvrBMDsicwxnaCZg4T1nHDmL0&s=q3ePWqyXyLUg7Oldq49t1qGLK2YKxgtfTbhCnQNwX54&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


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