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Re: Hack writer

Posted by James Briggs on July 23, 2003

In Reply to: Re: Hack writer posted by BB on July 22, 2003

: : : On the back of one of the books written by the late Canadian writer, Mordecai Richler, there is a sentence which goes: "an academic turned hack writer". What is a hack writer?

: : From Merriam-Webster online 3b:

: : Main Entry: 3hack
: : Function: noun
: : Etymology: short for hackney
: : Date: circa 1721
: : 1 a : a horse let out for common hire : a horse used in all kinds of work b : a horse worn out in service : JADE c : a light easy saddle horse; especially : a three-gaited saddle horse d : a ride on a horse
: : 2 a : HACKNEY b : TAXICAB : CABDRIVER
: : 3 a : a person who works solely for mercenary reasons : HIRELING b : a writer who works on order; also : a writer who aims solely for commercial success

: : To call someone a "hack" writer means he or she just grinds out the work for money. Also, it implies that the writing is poor or just adequate.

: Thanks for the clear explanation!

The word 'Hackney', in the horse sense, is an anglisisation of a Dutch word. The first horses used for taxi cabs in London were of Dutch origin. I can't recall their Dutch name, but it soon turned into 'hackney'in English and the taxis themselves were called 'hackney carriages' - a term still used for a certain type of taxi in Britain. The horses then became 'hacks' - used for repetitive journies requiring little or no inititiative - just like the work some journalists are said to do!!