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Posted by ESC on May 17, 2003

In Reply to: Hootenanny posted by James Briggs on May 17, 2003

: : : Anyone know the true origin of the phrase: Hootnanny?
: : : Thanks!
: : : Susan Johnson

: : Origin, no, just that it means an informal musical performance with audience participation, a sort of loud, active sing-along; common usage "We had us a hootenanny last night and it was a lot of fun."

: My big dictionary says 'US. 20thC. Origin unknown'

The musical meaning no doubt took its name from earlier uses:

HOOTENANNY - "n. (orig. unkn.) 1. a comparatively small thing whose name is unknown or forgotten; a whatchamacallit; gadget; (hence, rarely) an inconsequential person. 1929.2. a. any sort of informal social event; party. 1940.b. a performance of folk music, esp. by a number of artists with a degree of audience participation. Now colloq. 1957.3. a confused or turbulent situation; commotion." From "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-0" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994.

Also hoot(e)naddy, hooznannie. Also spelled hoot(e)nannie, hootnanny. 1 A dingus, an imaginary object, 1930s. 2. Any of various tools, appliances, or contrivances as a device making it possible to saw from under a log; a jig for sharpening shears in the correct angle, a kind of sleigh. 3. Disparaging epithet. 4. Something insignificant. 5. Also "hootin' Annie," a train that stops at every station. "Dictionary of American Regional English," Volume II by Frederic G. Cassidy (1985, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, England).