Saturday, April 9, 2016

A-to-Z Challenge: H

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.



  1. And there was me thinking that hack came from the fact they they were simply breaking in - I've always visualised them as hacking at the door with an axe :). My cat doesn't so the hairball thing - she goes outside, eats grass and then comes back in to hack it all back up on the floor. Sometimes cats are delightful :)
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  2. Someone probably hacked the files that reveal where it came from...

  3. I also think of a hack as a dishonest person.

  4. Laughing at Alex's comment...

    And my cats love to puke on the couch or the rug or my lap...but never the tile. Never the tile. It's delightful, isn't it?

  5. Oh my God, my cat did that this morning! She stepped three feet out of the kitchen and barfed on the living room rug. Thanks, Rocko. The worst is when she barfed down the heating vent. She's done that twice.

  6. I love to watch crime progams with hackers. It fascinates me. I am amazed people can actually do that kind of thing, how their minds work. My favourite movie hacker is RAT from The Core. I could never be a hacker in any sense of the word; I have enough trouble just switching on the computer and logging in :):)

  7. And aren't cabbies sometimes called hacks?

  8. Interesting word for the day :-)
    Good luck with the rest of the AtoZchallenge.

  9. It has to do with tree hacking. Breaking in.

  10. Hack sounds like it was a hard word to nail down.

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  11. Why do cats always throw up on the carpet instead of a hard floor? I always thought hacker as in computers had to do with breaking into or something. I guess we make up new words or new meanings for old words every day.
    Susan Says

  12. I love the word hack. However it's used. So nice to say...

  13. Interesting post. You'd think with a word as recent as that the etymology wouldn't be all that hard to track down.
    Impromptu Promptlings

  14. And I was wondering about hack as in cab...

  15. Hi there!

    I’m stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge. I have a cat...I feel your "hacking" pain...;~)

    I have two blogs in this challenge…my author blog at THE STORY CATCHER ( and my KICKS Kids Club blog ( . If you get a chance, check them out and good luck with the challenge!

    Donna L Martin

  16. Working my way through the list of <100 followers and so pleased to have found your blog. I've caught up on all your posts for this challenge as your word choice has been so interesting! Unfortunately, I can't seem to join as a follower with google connect at the moment (keeps giving me an error message and try later) so I'll try the e-mail route :)
    A Stormy’s Sidekick
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace


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