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I'm hearing people use "hack" to mean many things that I do not understand. Could someone please explain how one might "hack" a shirt collar, or a waste basket, etc?
 
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Cut them to pieces?
 
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Destroy them like in to hack ones hair means to cut it drastically.
 
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Possibly they mean that they are using makeshift materials to produce something? For instance, perhaps someone could make a shirt collar out of cardboard or a waste basket out of a large (opened and emptied) can of beans?


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I think it's an extension of the computer term. Like you hack a computer to make it do something you want, you could hack a shirt collar to make it keep its shape.
 
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I think it means to butcher or mutilate something by cutting, as Kalleh and angry and bitter have indicated. I think the computer meaning derives from this.

Here's a definition from AH
quote:
5. Slang To cut or mutilate as if by hacking: hacked millions off the budget.


And here's one from the OED Online

quote:
1. To cut with heavy blows in an irregular or random fashion; to cut notches or nicks in; to mangle or mutilate by jagged cuts. In earlier use chiefly, To cut or chop up or into pieces, to chop off. Const. about, away, down, off, up.

c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 139 A maiden bad te kinge his heued, and he hit bad of acken.
?c1225 (▸?a1200) Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 220 Hahackede of his heaued.
1297 R. Gloucester's Chron. (1724) 216 [He] by pece mele hakked yt al to nogte.
c1405 (▸c1385) Chaucer Knight's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 2001 He..leet anoon comaunde to hakke and hewe The okes olde.
c1440 Anc. Cookery in [i]Coll. Ordinances Royal Househ. (1790) 440 Sethe hom, and hak hom smal.
c1480 (▸a1400) St. Cecilia 205 in W. M. Metcalfe [i]Legends Saints Sc. Dial. (1896) II. 374 Þu ma heke þaim as þu wil.
1571 in J. T. Fowler Memorials Church SS. Peter & Wilfrid, Ripon (1882) I. 308 Did cut and hacke away certane pipes of leade.
1598 Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 1 ii. v. 168 My sworde hackt like a handsaw.
1653 H. Cogan tr. F. M. Pinto Voy. & Adventures 212 Causing them to be hacked very small.
a1716 R. South Serm. (1737) X. viii. (R.), That man who could stand and see another stripped or hacked in pieces by a thief or a rogue.
1788 E. Burke Speech against W. Hastings in Wks. (1822) XIII. 133 The tyrant..cut and hacked the limbs of British subjects in the most cruel..manner.
1796 Glasse's Art of Cookery (new ed.) iii. 27 Take the head up, hack it cross and cross with a knife.
a1859 Macaulay Hist. Eng. (1871) II. xxiv. 694 Such a partition as is effected by hacking a living man limb from limb.
1886 J. H. Overton Evang. Revival 18th Cent. viii. 152 Buildings..hacked about to suit the taste of the last century.
 
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From the context of its use when I've heard it, it seems akin to "re-purpose" rather than mutilate.
Here's an example: http://www.buzzfeed.com/natali...ould-know#.jlbmODDKV

How long, do you suppose, before the expression becomes hackneyed?
 
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That sounds like "Hints from Heloise."
 
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The wird hack has many meanings in techie jargon (see the jargon File entry.) It is thought by some to be from the Yiddish verb hakn 'chop, hew, mince, slash', hak 'axe'.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Good to see you again, Z! I had never even remotely considered a Yiddish connection!
 
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So, I guessed correctly. It would have been useful to have had that link to Buzzfeed in the OP. Cool


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by arnie:
So, I guessed correctly. It would have been useful to have had that link to Buzzfeed in the OP. Cool
I hadn't found it when I posted originally.
 
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The OED has this etymology for the verb "hack," meaning "To cut with heavy blows in an irregular or random fashion.":
quote:
Early Middle English hack-en, repr. Old English *haccian (whence tó-haccian to hack in pieces) < Common West Germanic *hakkôn: compare Old Frisian to-hakia, Middle High German, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, German hacken, modern Dutch hakken.
It has this citation from 1200: " Trin. Coll. Hom. 139 A maiden bad te kinge his heued, and he hit bad of acken."
 
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Originally posted by zmježd:
It is thought by some to be from the Yiddish verb hakn 'chop, hew, mince, slash', hak 'axe'.


I assume cognate with English hack "A tool or implement for breaking or chopping up."

The OED says the verb is from Middle English hacken from Old English *haccian
 
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What does one do when one "hires a hack?" I know this meaning derives from the English city of Hackney, and refers to a taxicab, but does the city's name derive from "haccian?"

BTW, I haven't heard anyone using "hack" to mean a taxi in a long time. Is it still common in the UK?
 
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A hack is (or was) a horse. The Oxford dictionary says, as you surmised, that it probably comes from the town of Hackney, to the east of London, where horses were pastured.

A hackney cab or hackney coach is a horse-drawn vehicle. Apart from rare uses in ceremonies, re-enactments and the like we mainly use horseless carriages these days, so the word isn't much used nowadays. Wink

According to Hackney's Wikipedia page
quote:
Hackney, through its historical fame for its horses and horse-drawn carriages, is also the root of the Spanish word jaca, a term used for a small breed of horse,[7] and the Sardinian achetta horse.)
They don't give an etymology for the original village of Hackney, though, but the Online Etymology Dictionary says it's from "Haca's Isle" (or possibly "Hook Island"), the "isle" element here meaning dry land in a marsh.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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The OED has 5 different nouns hack, all with different origins.
 
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Yes, I noticed that. That's why I had wondered about Z's comment above (about Yiddish). How do linguists decide which it is? Or is it a combination?
 
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How do linguists decide which it is?

I don't understand that question. Surely that depends on the context of the word?


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Yesterday I saw a TV segment about hacking a tailgate, which detailed ways in which to improvise articles missing but necessary for preparing a barbecue in your car's trunk (UK boot). So this sense of hack refers to improvising, or making do with what's available. For example, lacking a proper barbecue stove, a paint can (or similar gallon can) was sliced in the middle and split, then aluminum foil spread inside and charcoal added to make the barbcue hibachi. There were other odd uses of ordinary materials to hold cups and plates, etc.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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In times past this meaning of "hack" was "MacGyver." Was it so long ago? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGyver
 
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I've heard of the show since but although it apparently appeared on both the BBC and ITV networks I don't remember even seeing it advertised at the time, let alone seeing any episodes.

'To MacGyver' was certainly not used over here.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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The term was common enough here that it's still in the Urban Dictionary: http://www.urbandictionary.com...ne.php?term=Macgyver
 
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How do linguists decide which it is?

Well, a lot of the early hacker jargon (which originated with the MIT Model Train Club) was of Yiddish origin. And the original meaning of hack was to get locked doors open and investigate tunnels under buildings and such. Lexicographers tend to look at a lot of sources before they make their decisions. It's a tough task to write a dictionary (as opposed to a word list with some glosses).


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Originally posted by zmježd:


And the original meaning of hack was to get locked doors open
So physicist Richard Feynman was a hacker without knowing it?
 
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Lexicographers tend to look at a lot of sources before they make their decisions.
I just wonder what goes into making their final decisions. Is it dates of use? If the word has subtly different meanings, is it different for different meanings? I absolutely get that lexicography is a complex science.
 
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If the word has subtly different meanings, is it different for different meanings?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Some words have taken on different meanings over the years, often as a result of figurative use. Gay is probably a prime example, having changed meanings multiple times over the years. Sometimes the new meanings take over completely and sometimes they will operate in parallel, as it were. Decent dictionaries will of course include the older meanings (marking it as archaic if required).

It is of course up to the lexicographers to decide if a particular use is sufficiently different from the others to warrant a separate entry. The situation can be confused - is the mouth of a person or animal a totally different word from the mouth of a river?

In some cases the words arose from different etymologies - for example skate (glide on ice) comes from a different root to skate (a flatfish). The task is much easier in these cases of course.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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The evolution of words (i.e., gay) is a bit different from etymology in my mind. In the case of gay, for example, the OED has its etymology being:
quote:
Etymology: < Anglo-Norman gai, gaye and Old French, Middle French gai (in Old French occas. also jai ; French gai ) (of a person) happy, cheerful, (of a face, etc.) that expresses gaiety (second half of the 11th cent.), amorous (c1160), carefree, frivolous, fickle (c1165), licentious, lascivious, lewd (c1165), (of an animal's coat) speckled (c1170), (of the human body) good looking (c1220), (of a horse) spirited, frisky (c1230), (of the colour green) bright, yellowish (in vert gai , c1300), (of a colour) that creates or inspires gaiety (1382), probably (although this is disputed by some) < Old High German gāhi rapid, fast, sudden, surprising, fleeting (Middle High German gāch , gā , gaehe , German jäh ), further etymology uncertain. Compare (probably also < Old High German gāhi ) Old Occitan gai , jai joyful (a1126; also as noun, jai , gai joy (a1168)), and also ( < French or Occitan) Catalan gai (c1272), Spanish gayo (15th cent.; 14th cent., or perhaps 13th cent., as noun), Portuguese gaio (1258 as the name of a person), Italian gaio (13th cent.). On the etymology of the French word (and its relationship with the Occitan word) see further discussion and summary of other theories in Dictionnaire étymologique de l'ancien français s.v. gai (for a notable divergent view, rejecting a Germanic etymology completely, see J. Coromines Diccionari Etimològic i Complementari de la Llengua Catalana at that entry). The senses at A. 2 apparently do not have an exact parallel in French, and may show a development within English. In the gay science at sense A. 3c ultimately after Old Occitan, Occitan gai saber, †gai sauber (1343), gaya sciensa (c1340); compare French gai savoir (1845), gaie science (1694). See also gey adv. and adj.
It all seems so complicated. They then go on with a discussion about how the definition of homosexual developed.
 
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