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  #1  
Old 11-02-2001, 01:08 PM
WordMan WordMan is online now
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Hello,

A word colleague of mine lives in this fabled NJ city and has a question - she knows that the city name is based on a Native American word, but did the city name lead to the naming of "hoboes"? She has heard that it did because Hoboken was a clearinghouse city and saw a lot of people down on their luck looking for opportunity.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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  #2  
Old 11-02-2001, 01:10 PM
WordMan WordMan is online now
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uh...that's "work" colleague....must preview, must...preview
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  #3  
Old 11-02-2001, 01:15 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Merriam-Webster's Collegiate dictionary says "etymology unknown." Who around here has an OED?
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  #4  
Old 11-02-2001, 01:17 PM
cleops cleops is offline
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hobos

I always surmised the work "hobo" was a corruption from the French "hobereaux" which meant a former nobleman down on his financial luck or who had done something unaristocratic--like getting his hands dirty actually trying to make money--to lose his noble status. But, just a surmise.
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  #5  
Old 11-02-2001, 01:19 PM
capybara capybara is offline
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Uh, I am under the impression that the New York town is named after a town in the Netherlands, as are Nieuw Amsterdam (New York), Haarlem, Schenectady, and Beverswyck (Albany).
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Old 11-02-2001, 01:20 PM
cleops cleops is offline
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oops, sorry that's

word
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  #7  
Old 11-02-2001, 01:21 PM
capybara capybara is offline
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Uh, I am under the impression that the New Jersey town is named after a town in the Netherlands, as are other places in the area like Nieuw Amsterdam (New York), Haarlem, Schenectady, Breucklen (Brooklyn), Bronx, and Beverswyck (now Albany).
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Old 11-02-2001, 01:23 PM
capybara capybara is offline
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My bad on that semi-double post. And apparently the old Hoboken is now in Belgium. . .
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  #9  
Old 11-02-2001, 01:28 PM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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According to Cassell's Dictionary Of Slang, the etymology of hobo is unknown.

Claims have been made for hoe-boy, a migrant farm worker, and the cry Ho, boy! used regularly by northwestern railway mail handlers c. 1880-90.

There is no mention of Hoboken in the definition.
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  #10  
Old 11-02-2001, 02:15 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by capybara
as are other places in the area like Nieuw Amsterdam (New York), Haarlem, Schenectady, Breucklen (Brooklyn), Bronx, and Beverswyck (now Albany).
Actually, Beverswyck isn't a town in the Netherlands. It means "beaver district", because there was a trading post for beaver pelts there.
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  #11  
Old 11-02-2001, 06:10 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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Here's the full text of the OED's information about the origins of this word:
Quote:
orig. Western U.S.
First cite:
Quote:
1889 Ellensburgh (Wash.) Capital 28 Nov. 2/2 The tramp has changed his name, or rather had it changed for him, and now he is a ‘Hobo’.
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  #12  
Old 11-02-2001, 08:40 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
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just a wag here - since hobo's usually travel via feight trains and hoboken is basically a big rail yard - maybe the bums from NYC who wanted a change of carear got across the river and hopped a freight.
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  #13  
Old 11-02-2001, 11:23 PM
arara123 arara123 is offline
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I saw Patti Smith in concert at a street fair/summer festival in Hoboken a couple of years ago.

FWIW, she mentioned the Hoboken/hobo tie-in.
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  #14  
Old 06-25-2010, 01:55 AM
Neologian Neologian is offline
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Origin of word "Hobo"

My understanding was that "hobo" was an abbreviation for "home bound" as when the men riding the rails or camping on riverbanks were challenged by local authorities what they were doing, they would plead that they were "homebound."
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  #15  
Old 06-25-2010, 07:12 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is online now
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Since the OED indicates the origin is from the western US and Hoboken is in the east, it seems unlikely there's an etymological connection.
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  #16  
Old 06-25-2010, 07:56 AM
Rodney of Texas Rodney of Texas is offline
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I can't find a link, but Garrison Keillor once explained that the gardening hoe was invented near the end of the civil war, and that destitute confederate veterans who could obtain one turned to wandering the countryside carrying their few belongings in a pack attached to the hoe. The cartoon image of a hobo with his pack on a 'stick' developed from this.

These "Hoe Boys" would go door to door and offer to weed gardens or fields in exchange for food, shelter or money.
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  #17  
Old 06-25-2010, 08:22 AM
samclem samclem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neologian View Post
My understanding was that "hobo" was an abbreviation for "home bound" as when the men riding the rails or camping on riverbanks were challenged by local authorities what they were doing, they would plead that they were "homebound."
Almost certainly false.

I realize this is a "zombie" thread, but might as well update it with the latest information.

The word sleuths still haven't discovered the etymology, at least not the smoking gun. But they have gotten a lot closer.

The earliest cite is now from 1885 and shows the most likely derivation--a cry uttered by the tramps themselves--

Quote:
St. Paul daily globe. (Saint Paul, Minn.) 1884-1896
November 30, 1885, Page 8, col. 1, Image 9

The Hobo, the "Workers," the Crook and Tramp at home--Their Slang and Their
Habits
Something About Their Most Salient Characteristics--How They Act and Talk
....
THE "HOBO"
The genus tramp, i.e., the "bum" or "Hobo" is usually made up of a
conglomeration of human outcasts....
THIEVES' VOCABULARY
....An overcoat is a "Ben." Hobo is a call to attract attention, the same as
Hello in the average citizen's vernacular. It is pronounced with the
long sound of the vowel, o, in both syllables, and is sometimes uttered with the aspirate omitted, as "Obo," and is the shibboleth of the fraternity of bums and crooks. It is now commonly applied by them as a generic term to designate the order. Hence "Hobo," when used in a substantative sense, means tramp or crook, as the case may be. For instance, when one says "That man is a Hobo," he means tramp or crook..... [col. 2]...further particulars will be postponed until another issue of The Globe. Rhue Saga.
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  #18  
Old 06-25-2010, 08:23 AM
samclem samclem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodney of Texas View Post
I can't find a link, but Garrison Keillor once explained that the gardening hoe was invented near the end of the civil war, and that destitute confederate veterans who could obtain one turned to wandering the countryside carrying their few belongings in a pack attached to the hoe. The cartoon image of a hobo with his pack on a 'stick' developed from this.

These "Hoe Boys" would go door to door and offer to weed gardens or fields in exchange for food, shelter or money.
Mr. Keillor tells a great story. Nothing to back it up.
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  #19  
Old 06-25-2010, 09:11 AM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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The relationship is that one is the other's kin.
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  #20  
Old 06-25-2010, 09:17 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodney of Texas View Post
I can't find a link, but Garrison Keillor once explained that the gardening hoe was invented near the end of the civil war, and that destitute confederate veterans who could obtain one turned to wandering the countryside carrying their few belongings in a pack attached to the hoe. The cartoon image of a hobo with his pack on a 'stick' developed from this.

These "Hoe Boys" would go door to door and offer to weed gardens or fields in exchange for food, shelter or money.
Bindles predate the US Civil War (though the word does not). Dick Whittington is typically depicted carrying a bindle as he leaves London, and one such image I've seen dates to the 17th century.
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  #21  
Old 05-09-2011, 12:23 PM
Cravasse Cravasse is offline
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This is a interesting discussion to say the least. I really don't know where the word originated, and from reading this thread, it appears that no one really does. However, there are a lot of very interesting theories, which evokes my curiosity.
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  #22  
Old 05-09-2011, 01:07 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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The Name "Hoboken" isn't a Dutch place name shifted to the New World. To cite the Wikipedia article:

Quote:
The name "Hoboken", pronounced by some as HO-bo-ken /ˈhoʊboʊkən/, was decided upon by Colonel John Stevens when he purchased land, on a part of which the city still sits. The Lenape (later called Delaware Indian) referred to the area as the “land of the tobacco pipe”, most likely to refer to the soapstone collected there to carve tobacco pipes, and used a phrase that became “Hopoghan Hackingh”.[8] Like Weehawken, its neighbor to the north, Communipaw and Harsimus to the south, Hoboken had many variations in the folks-tongue. Hoebuck, old Dutch for high bluff and likely referring to Castle Point, was used during the colonial era and later spelled as Hobuck,[9] Hobock,[10] and Hoboocken.[11]

So it appears that "Hoboken" is from a Dutch word that was inspired by the Lenape place name for the then-island. That's not surprising -- there are other examples of mixed Indian/European place names. in NJ. Perth Amboy gets its "Perth" part from Scotland (lots of Scottish Quakers settled in central NJ), but "
ambo" is Lenape "Ambo" = "point", so "Perth Amboy" is a dual-language "Perth Point". South Amboy across the bay is thus "South Point".
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  #23  
Old 11-02-2011, 05:10 AM
philippe_gh74 philippe_gh74 is offline
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what a matter of chance

Despite the wikipedia definition (see above).
It's strange that in Belgium nearest the Netherland border, there is a city named Hoboken since 1123 AD. See wikilink : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoboken,_Antwerp.

it's an idea worth pursuing.
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  #24  
Old 11-02-2011, 08:00 AM
Floater Floater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by capybara View Post
Uh, I am under the impression that the New Jersey town is named after a town in the Netherlands, as are other places in the area like Nieuw Amsterdam (New York), Haarlem, Schenectady, Breucklen (Brooklyn), Bronx, and Beverswyck (now Albany).
The Bronx is named after a Swedish zombie called Jonas Bronck.
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  #25  
Old 11-02-2011, 08:19 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Do hobo zombies shamble after you calling out "Traaaiiiiiins"??
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  #26  
Old 11-02-2011, 02:15 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
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Double zombie! Oh my God!
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  #27  
Old 11-02-2011, 05:54 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodney of Texas View Post
I can't find a link, but Garrison Keillor once explained that the gardening hoe was invented near the end of the civil war, and that destitute confederate veterans who could obtain one turned to wandering the countryside carrying their few belongings in a pack attached to the hoe. The cartoon image of a hobo with his pack on a 'stick' developed from this.
This, certainly, is incorrect. The image is several centuries old, and comes from the tarot card The Fool.

I've read that the earliest surviving images actually show a jester with an inflated bladder on the end of his stick. This gradually changed to a beggar with a bag, as artists copied earlier images incorrectly.
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  #28  
Old 11-02-2011, 09:49 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arara123 View Post
I saw Patti Smith in concert at a street fair/summer festival in Hoboken a couple of years ago.

FWIW, she mentioned the Hoboken/hobo tie-in.
Now that's a cite.
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