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

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 3 19:34:27 UTC 2021

The article "The Unhappy Hookers; Origin of Hooker 'Prostitute'" by J.
Peter Maher that was linked by Gerald Cohen includes a discussion of
the 1845 student letter on page 28 and 29. Maher concluded that the
word "hooker" within the student letter did not mean prostitute.


It is a complex topic, and I admit that I have only quickly scanned
Maher's overall article because it is not in my primary area of
research. Nevertheless, his analysis of the 1845 letter looked
plausible to me.


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 - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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