View Full Version : What is the origin of the word hookey?

11-16-2002, 02:46 PM
I recently was curious about the word hookey and was unable to get a good origin of the word. The online dictionaries all say the same thing, that it was short for "hook it", which did not explain enough to me. Even though we all know what it means...to be absent without leave especially from school......I still want to know the true origin of the this simple word.

11-16-2002, 03:00 PM
From this site (http://www.geocities.com/etymonline/h3etym.htm):

hooky - 1848, Amer.Eng. (New York City), from Du. hoekje "hide and seek," or from hook it, 14c., "make off, run away," originally "depart, proceed."

The American Heritage Dictionary seems less sure:


NOUN: Informal Absence without leave; truancy: play hooky from school.
ETYMOLOGY: Perhaps from hook it, to make off.

Another vote (http://www.internetnow.co.uk/dutchusa/nlusword.htm) for Dutch origins:

Hooky This Americanism meaning to skip school probably derives from the Dutch hoekje, a name for the game of hide and seek

11-16-2002, 03:12 PM
Lots of theories. "Hookey" (also spelled "hooky") apparently developed from the colloquial phrase "hooky- crooky" common in the early 19th century, which meant "dishonest or underhanded." ... "Hooky-crooky," to return to our subject, came from "by hook or by crook," meaning "by any means or tactic, fair or foul.

This Americanism meaning to skip school probably derives from the Dutch hoekje, a name for the game of hide and seek.

Play hooky is probably derived from the Dutch term hoekje (spelen) 'hide-and- seek'. ...It's also been suggested that play hooky comes from the verb hook, euphemistically meaning 'to steal', or from the phrase hook it, meaning 'to escape, run away, make off'. These derivations are unlikely

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