For the eighth letter, I’ve chosen hack. You know, like cats hack up hairballs. All down the back of the couch and onto the floor.
It was a gross day.
There are a bunch of different definitions for hack, like you would with an axe or hacking into a computer or hacking up a hairball all over the rug when if you moved six inches you’d be on the dining room floor. Hack—like you would a tree—showed up in the early thirteenth century from the Old English tohaccian, hack to pieces. Before that, it was the West Germanic hakkon and Proto Indo European keg, hook or tooth (the origin word for hook, BTW). The coughing hack is possibly related to this based on the idea of hacking being difficult, but it could also just be onomatopoeia for the sound you make when you cough.
Finally, there’s hacking a computer. Hacker first showed up in 1975 and from that came hacking in 1984. Its origin is pretty obscure. It might be from the first hack, or it might actually be from the word hackney, like a horse drawn carriage. You know how a writer is called a hack when they’re accused of doing “common” work? That comes from hackney, which was shortened to hack and used to refer to people “hired to do routine work”. And it’s possible hacker comes from there.
Or not. For something so recent, we sure don’t know that much about it.