histrionic (adj.)
"theatrical" (figuratively, "hypocritical"), 1640s, from Latin histrionicus "pertaining to an actor," from histrio (genitive histrionis) "actor," said to be of Etruscan origin. The literal sense in English is from 1759.
histrionics (n.)
"theatrics, pretense," 1864, from histrionic; also see -ics.
hit (v.)
late Old English hyttan, hittan "come upon, meet with, fall in with, 'hit' upon," from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse hitta "to light upon, meet with," also "to hit, strike;" Swedish hitta "to find," Danish and Norwegian hitte "to hit, find," from Proto-Germanic *hitjan, of uncertain origin. Related: Hitting. Meaning shifted in late Old English period to "strike," via "to reach with a blow or missile," and replaced Old English slean in this sense. Original sense survives in phrases such as hit it off (1780, earlier in same sense hit it, 1630s) and is revived in hit on (1970s).

Underworld slang meaning "to kill by plan" is 1955 (as a noun in this sense from 1970). To hit the bottle "drink alcohol" is from 1889. To hit the nail on the head (1570s) is from archery. Hit the road "leave" is from 1873; to hit (someone) up "request something" is from 1917. Hit and run is 1899 as a baseball play, 1924 as a driver failing to stop at a crash he caused. To not know what hit (one) is from 1923.
hit (n.)
late 15c., "a rebuke;" 1590s as "a blow," from hit (v.). Meaning "successful play, song, person," etc., 1811, is from the verbal sense of "to hit the mark, succeed" (c.1400). Underworld slang meaning "a killing" is from 1970. Meaning "dose of narcotic" is 1951, from phrases such as hit the bottle.
hitch (v.)
mid-15c., probably from Middle English icchen "to move as with a jerk, to stir" (c.1200). It lacks cognates in other languages. The connection with icchen may be in notion of "hitching up" pants or boots with a jerking motion. Sense of "become fastened," especially by a hook, first recorded 1570s, originally nautical. Meaning "to marry" is from 1844 (to hitch horses together "get along well," especially of married couples, is from 1837, American English). Short for hitchhike (v.) by 1931. Related: Hitched; hitching.
hitch (n.)
1660s, "a limp or hobble;" 1670s, "an abrupt movement," from hitch (v.). Meaning "a means by which a rope is made fast" is from 1769, nautical. The sense of "obstruction" is first recorded 1748; military sense of "enlistment" is from 1835.
hitcher (n.)
1620s, "a hook, boat-hook," agent noun from hitch (v.). Meaning "hitchhiker" is from 1960.
hitchhike
1921 (n.), 1923 (v.), from hitch, from the notion of hitching a sled to a moving vehicle (a sense first recorded 1880) + hike. Related: Hitchhiked; hitchhiking. Hitchhiker attested from 1927.
hithe (n.)
"landing place" (archaic, but still found in place names), from Old English hyð "landing place," especially one on a river or creek, cognate with Old Saxon huth.
hither (adv.)
Old English hider, from Proto-Germanic *hideran (cognates: Old Norse heðra "here," Gothic hidre "hither"), from Germanic demonstrative base *hi- (compare he, here). Spelling change from -d- to -th- is the same evolution seen in father, etc. Relation to here is the same as that of thither to there.
hitherto (adv.)
c.1200, from hither + to.
Hitler
used figuratively for "a dictator" from 1934.
hitman (n.)
"hired assassin," 1970, from hit (n.) in the underworld sense + man (n.).
Hittite
c.1600, "of or pertaining to an Indo-European people whose empire (c.1900-700 B.C.E.) covered much of modern Turkey and Syria," from Hebrew Hitti "Hittite" (plural Hittim), from Hittite Hatti. The biblical use (Gen. xv:20, etc.) refers to Canaanite or Syrian tribes that probably were genuine scions of the Hittites. They were called khita or kheta in Egyptian.
HIV (n.)
1986, initialism (acronym) from human immunodeficiency virus, name for either of the two viruses that cause AIDS.
hive (n.)
Old English hyf "beehive," from Proto-Germanic *hufiz (cognates: Old Norse hufr "hull of a ship"), from PIE *keup- "round container, bowl" (cognates: Sanskrit kupah "hollow, pit, cave," Greek kypellon "cup," Latin cupa "tub, cask, vat"). Figurative sense of "swarming, busy place" is from 1630s. As a verb, of bees, etc., "to form themselves into a hive," c.1400; "to put bees in a hive," mid-15c.
hives (n.)
c.1500 hyvis "itchy condition of the skin," origin unknown. Some writers connect it with heave because hives erupt out from the skin, but the phonetics of that are difficult to explain.
hmm
representative of a sound made during contemplation or showing mild disapproval, attested from 1868, but this is probably a variation of the hum attested in similar senses from 1590s.
ho (interj.)
exclamation of surprise, etc., c.1300; as an exclamation calling attention or demanding silence, late 14c. Used after the name of a place to which attention is called (as in Westward-Ho) it dates from 1590s, originally a cry of boatmen, etc., announcing departures for a particular destination. Ho-ho-ho expressing laughter is recorded from mid-12c.
ho (n.)
by 1993, American English slang, representing a ghetto pronunciation of whore.
ho-de-ho
1932, defined in the "Oxford English Dictionary" as, "An exclamation, used as the appropriate response to HI-DE-HI."
ho-hum
expression of boredom, by 1906. As an adjective, by 1956.
hoagie (n.)
American English (originally Philadelphia) word for "hero, large sandwich made from a long, split roll;" originally hoggie (c.1936), traditionally said to be named for Big Band songwriter Hoagland Howard "Hoagy" Carmichael (1899-1981), but the use of the word pre-dates his celebrity and the original spelling seems to suggest another source (perhaps hog). Modern spelling is c.1945, and may have been altered by influence of Carmichael's nickname.
hoar (adj.)
Old English har "hoary, gray, venerable, old," the connecting notion being gray hair, from Proto-Germanic *haira (cognates: Old Norse harr "gray-haired, old," Old Saxon, Old High German her "distinguished, noble, glorious," German hehr), from PIE *kei-, source of color adjectives (see hue (n.1)). German also uses the word as a title of respect, in Herr. Of frost, it is recorded in Old English, perhaps expressing the resemblance of the white feathers of frost to an old man's beard. Used as an attribute of boundary stones in Anglo-Saxon, perhaps in reference to being gray with lichens, hence its appearance in place-names.
hoard (n.)
Old English hord "treasure, valuable stock or store," from Proto-Germanic *huzdam (cognates: Old Saxon hord "treasure, hidden or inmost place," Old Norse hodd, German Hort, Gothic huzd "treasure," literally "hidden treasure"), from PIE root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (see hide (n.1)).
hoard (v.)
Old English hordian, cognate with Old High German gihurten, German gehorden, Gothic huzdjan, from the root of hoard (n.). Related: Hoarded; hoarding.
hoarder (n.)
Old English hordere "treasurer," from hoard (n.). As "one who hoards," c.1500, from hoard (v.).
hoarfrost (n.)
c.1300, hore-forst; see hoar + frost (n.).
hoarse (adj.)
late 14c., hors, earlier hos, from Old English has "hoarse," from Proto-Germanic *haisa- (cognates: Old Saxon hes, Old Norse hass, Dutch hees, Old High German heisi, German heiser "hoarse"), perhaps originally meaning "dried out, rough." The -r- is difficult to explain; it is first attested c.1400, but it may indicate an unrecorded Old English variant *hars. Related: Hoarsely; hoarseness.
hoary (adj.)
1510s, "gray or white with age" (of hair); c.1600 as "venerable, ancient;" from hoar + -y (2). Related: Hoariness.
hoax
1796 (v.), 1808 (n.), probably an alteration of hocus "conjurer, juggler" (1630s), or directly from hocus-pocus. Related: Hoaxed; hoaxing.
hob (n.)
"side of fireplace," 1670s, alteration of hubbe (1510s), of unknown origin, perhaps somehow related to the first element in hobnail.
Hob (n.)
"clown, prankster," short for hobgoblin (q.v.). Hence, to play (the) hob "make mischief" (by 1834).
Hobbit (n.)
1937, coined in the fantasy tales of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973).
On a blank leaf I scrawled: 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.' I did not and do not know why. [Tolkien, letter to W.H. Auden, dated 1955]
The word also turns up in a very long list of folkloric supernatural creatures in the writings of Michael Aislabie Denham (d.1859), printed in volume 2 of "The Denham Tracts" [ed. James Hardy, London: Folklore Society, 1895], a compilation of Denham's scattered publications. Denham was an early folklorist who concentrated on Northumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, Cumberland, the Isle of Man, and Scotland.
What a happiness this must have been seventy or eighty years ago and upwards, to those chosen few who had the good luck to be born on the eve of this festival of all festivals; when the whole earth was so overrun with ghosts, boggles, bloody-bones, spirits, demons, ignis fatui, brownies, bugbears, black dogs, specters, shellycoats, scarecrows, witches, wizards, barguests, Robin-Goodfellows, hags, night-bats, scrags, breaknecks, fantasms, hobgoblins, hobhoulards, boggy-boes, dobbies, hob-thrusts, fetches, kelpies, warlocks, mock-beggars, mum-pokers, Jemmy-burties, urchins, satyrs, pans, fauns, sirens, tritons, centaurs, calcars, nymphs, imps, incubuses, spoorns, men-in-the-oak, hell-wains, fire-drakes, kit-a-can-sticks, Tom-tumblers, melch-dicks, larrs, kitty-witches, hobby-lanthorns, Dick-a-Tuesdays, Elf-fires, Gyl-burnt-tales, knockers, elves, rawheads, Meg-with-the-wads, old-shocks, ouphs, pad-foots, pixies, pictrees, giants, dwarfs, Tom-pokers, tutgots, snapdragons, sprets, spunks, conjurers, thurses, spurns, tantarrabobs, swaithes, tints, tod-lowries, Jack-in-the-Wads, mormos, changelings, redcaps, yeth-hounds, colt-pixies, Tom-thumbs, black-bugs, boggarts, scar-bugs, shag-foals, hodge-pochers, hob-thrushes, bugs, bull-beggars, bygorns, bolls, caddies, bomen, brags, wraiths, waffs, flay-boggarts, fiends, gallytrots, imps, gytrashes, patches, hob-and-lanthorns, gringes, boguests, bonelesses, Peg-powlers, pucks, fays, kidnappers, gallybeggars, hudskins, nickers, madcaps, trolls, robinets, friars' lanthorns, silkies, cauld-lads, death-hearses, goblins, hob-headlesses, bugaboos, kows, or cowes, nickies, nacks necks, waiths, miffies, buckies, ghouls, sylphs, guests, swarths, freiths, freits, gy-carlins Gyre-carling, pigmies, chittifaces, nixies, Jinny-burnt-tails, dudmen, hell-hounds, dopple-gangers, boggleboes, bogies, redmen, portunes, grants, hobbits, hobgoblins, brown-men, cowies, dunnies, wirrikows, alholdes, mannikins, follets, korreds, lubberkins, cluricauns, kobolds, leprechauns, kors, mares, korreds, puckles korigans, sylvans, succubuses, blackmen, shadows, banshees, lian-hanshees, clabbernappers, Gabriel-hounds, mawkins, doubles, corpse lights or candles, scrats, mahounds, trows, gnomes, sprites, fates, fiends, sibyls, nicknevins, whitewomen, fairies, thrummy-caps, cutties, and nisses, and apparitions of every shape, make, form, fashion, kind and description, that there was not a village in England that had not its own peculiar ghost. Nay, every lone tenement, castle, or mansion-house, which could boast of any antiquity had its bogle, its specter, or its knocker. The churches, churchyards, and crossroads were all haunted. Every green lane had its boulder-stone on which an apparition kept watch at night. Every common had its circle of fairies belonging to it. And there was scarcely a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit!
[Emphasis added] It is curious that the name occurs nowhere else in folklore, and there is no evidence that Tolkien ever saw this. The word also was recorded from 1835 as "a term generally used in Wales to express a quantity made up of four Welsh pecks." Hobbitry attested from 1947.
hobble (v.)
c.1300, hoblen "to rock back and forth, toss up and down," probably related to its Dutch cognate hobbelen (which, however, is not recorded before late 15c.).

Meaning "to walk lamely" is from c.1400. Transitive sense of "tie the legs (of an animal)" first recorded 1831, probably an alteration of 16c. hopple, cognate with Flemish hoppelen "to rock, jump," which also is related to Dutch hobbelen. Sense of "hamper, hinder" is c.1870. Related: Hobbled; hobbling. The noun is 1727, from the verb.
hobbledehoy (n.)
"clumsy or awkward youth," 1530s, of uncertain origin and the subject of much discussion. First element is probably hob in its sense of "clown, prankster" (see hobgoblin), the second element perhaps is Middle French de haye "worthless, untamed, wild," literally "of the hedge."
hobby (n.)
late 13c., hobyn, "small horse, pony," later "mock horse used in the morris dance," and c.1550 "child's toy riding horse," which led to hobby-horse in a transferred sense of "favorite pastime or avocation," first recorded 1670s, shortened to hobby by 1816. The connecting notion being "activity that doesn't go anywhere." Probably originally a proper name for a horse (see dobbin), a diminutive of Robert or Robin. The original hobbyhorse was a "Tourney Horse," a wooden or basketwork frame worn around the waist and held on with shoulder straps, with a fake tail and horse head attached, so the wearer appears to be riding a horse. These were part of church and civic celebrations at Midsummer and New Year's throughout England.
hobbyist (n.)
1830, from hobby + -ist. Hobbyism is recorded from 1846.
hobgoblin (n.)
1520s, from hob "elf," from Hobbe, a variant of Rob (compare Hick for Richard, Hodge for Rodger, etc.), short for Robin Goodfellow, elf character in German folklore, + goblin.
hobnail (n.)
1590s, the first element probably identical with hob "rounded peg or pin used as a mark or target in games" (1580s), of unknown origin. See hob. Because they were used to make rough shoes, the word was used figuratively for "rustic person" 17c. and after. Related: Hobnailed.
hobnob (v.)
1763, "to drink to each other," from hob and nob (1756) "to toast each other by turns, to buy alternate rounds of drinks," from c.1550 hab nab "to have or have not, hit or miss," probably ultimately from Old English habban, nabban "have, not have," with the negative particle ne- attached, as was customary. Modern sense of "socialize" is 1866. Related: Hobnobbed; hobnobbing.
hobo (n.)
1889, Western U.S., of unknown origin. Barnhart compares early 19c. English dialectal hawbuck "lout, clumsy fellow, country bumpkin." Or possibly from ho, boy, a workers' call on late 19c. western U.S. railroads. Facetious formation hobohemia, "community or life of hobos," is from 1923 (see bohemian).
Hoboken
city in New Jersey, U.S., birthplace of Frank Sinatra, named by 17c. Dutch settlers for a village in modern Belgium that is now a suburb of Antwerp.
Hobson's choice (n.)
English university slang term, supposedly a reference to Thomas Hobson (c.1544-1631), Cambridge stable manager who let horses and gave customers a choice of the horse next in line or none at all. Phrase popularized c.1660 by Milton, who was at Cambridge from 1625-29.
Hobson-Jobson
1690s, hossen gossen, said to have been British soldiers' mangled Englishing of the Arabic cry they heard at Muharram processions in India, Ya Hasan! Ya Husayn! ("O Hassan! O Husain!"), mourning two grandsons of the Prophet who died fighting for the faith. Title of Yule & Burnell's 1886 glossary of Anglo-Indian words, and taken by linguists in naming the law of Hobson-Jobson, describing the effort to bring a new and strange word into harmony with the language.
hoc
Latin, literally "this."
hock (n.1)
"joint in the hind leg of a horse," mid-15c., earlier hockshin (late 14c.), from Old English hohsinu "sinew of the heel, Achilles' tendon," literally "heel sinew," from hoh "heel," from Proto-Germanic *hanhaz (cognates: German Hachse "hock," Old English hæla "heel"), from PIE *kenk- (3) "heel, bend of the knee."
hock (n.2)
"Rhenish wine," 1620s, shortening of Hockamore, from German Hochheimer, "(wine) of Hochheim," town on the Main where wine was made; sense extended to German white wines in general.
hock (n.3)
"pawn, debt," 1859, American English, in hock, which meant both "in debt" and "in prison," from Dutch hok "jail, pen, doghouse, hutch, hovel." The verb is 1878, from the noun.
When one gambler is caught by another, smarter than himself, and is beat, then he is in hock. Men are only caught, or put in hock, on the race-tracks, or on the steamboats down South. ... Among thieves a man is in hock when he is in prison. [G.W. Matsell, "Vocabulum," 1859]
hockey (n.)
after an isolated reference from Ireland dated 1527 ("The horlinge of the litill balle with hockie stickes or staves ..."), the word is next recorded 1838 from W. Sussex; of unknown origin, perhaps related to Middle French hoquet "shepherd's staff, crook," diminutive of Old French hoc "hook." The hooked clubs with which the game is played resemble shepherds' staves. In North America, ice hockey is distinguished from field hockey.