I’ve always heard it as horse or bull puckey. I’d assumed it was because of the shape of the leavings; note, though, that I’m not a specialist on equine or bovine feces, so it is indeed possible that horse and bullshit are not, in fact, shaped like a puck.
But assuming they are, it would be simple to transpose puckey to hockey, giving rise to the turn of phrase you mention.
And the problem with small furry animals
in corners is that, just occasionally,
one of them’s a mongoose.
Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad
Just another WAG, but I don’t think the actual euphemism employed in the phrase is terribly significant. If I told you that what you just said to me was “a load of bull waffles!” I’m pretty sure you’d get my drift, even though I just made that up. The force of the expression is all in the setup, not in the actual word used.
About thirty years ago an old Virginia Gentleman (FFV, I’m sure) said HORSE HOCKEY in from of us and from the way he jumped back and apologized we knew it was POWERFUL language and used it whenever we could.
I remember hockey specifically because of the ice game and then later wondering if it was what polo players said when the game was about to begin like “Play ball” or “Ready set go” for then it would be: “Hi ho and Horse Hockey!”
Horse-hockey is from the early 20th century. When children could find time, and makeshift hockey sticks, they would play hockey on the streets in the winter.
Of course, back in those days, delivery wagons were pulled by horses. Vehicle pollution did not go up in the air like it does now.
Not having a lot of money for sporting equipment, children improvised.
A frozen piece of horse turd, could be cut and shaped to the desired shape, size, and weight, for a decent hockey projectile.
How far back does it really go? I always assumed it was just something made up by the M.A.S.H. scriptwriters so Col. Potter could sound like he was swearing without actually doing so. I have never heard (or read) it anywhere else. Do real people actually say it? Did they before M.A.S.H.?
I don’t know where it comes from. I suspect that its resemblance to the sport “hockey” is coincidence, and not the result of derivation.
Vance Randolph records “hockey” being used for “feces” (including human feces) in the Ozarks in the 1920s in his books of folktales. I’ve occasionally heard it used in other places since (Col. Sherman T. Potter once used in on MASH*).
Random data point: When I was a kid, we said “ockey”, without the “h”, for poop.
Here’s one take on the etymology:
I originally drafted a post to say just this (although naturally much more wittily and humorously). Then I noticed Flypsyde’s post wast over a decade old and I didn’t remember his username from any recent thread.
Besides, golf balls ? You must have only been around constipated nags. Tennis balls is more like it. And that’s if the horse is considerate - most barely make an effort and shit outa fibery mess with some balls in it (NSFW if your coworkers assume you’re into both beastiality and scat play).
Our zombie friend doesn’t know what’s what. The specific term “horse hockey” to mean “excrement” doesn’t go back to the early 1900s. It’s from the Korean War period. Which makes “M.A.S.H.” not unbelievable,
Hockey, to mean excrement DOES go back to the1880s or so.