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hook·er 1 (hkər)
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n.
1. A single-masted fishing smack used off the coast of Ireland.
2. An old worn-out or clumsy ship.

[Dutch hoeker, from Middle Dutch hoeckboot : hoec, fishhook; see keg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + boot, boat.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
hook·er 2 (hkər)
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n.
1. One that hooks.
2. Slang A prostitute.

Word History: In his Personal Memoirs Ulysses S. Grant described Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker as “a dangerous man ... not subordinate to his superiors.” Hooker had his faults. He may indeed have been insubordinate; he was undoubtedly an erratic leader. But “Fighting Joe” Hooker is often accused of one thing he certainly did not do: he did not give his name to prostitutes. According to a popular story about the origin of the term hooker, the men under Hooker's command during the Civil War were a particularly wild bunch who would spend much of their time in brothels when on leave, and thus prostitutes came to be known as hookers. However, this tale of the origin of hooker cannot be true. The explanation of this highlights a procedure that etymologists often use when trying to evaluate proposed etymologies that relate the origin of a word to a specific historical event or to the name of a historical person: if the word is attested before the event occurred, or before the person lived, then the word cannot have originated with that event or in that person's name. In fact, the word hooker with the sense “prostitute” is recorded before the Civil War. As early as 1845 it is found in North Carolina, as reported in Norman Ellsworth Eliason's Tarheel Talk: An Historical Study of the English Language in North Carolina to 1860, published in 1956. It also appears in the second edition of John Russell Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms, published in 1859, where it is defined as “a strumpet, a sailor's trull.” Etymologically, it is most likely that hooker is simply “one who hooks or snares clients.”

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
hook·er 3 (hkər)
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n.
Slang
A drink of undiluted hard liquor: a hooker of whiskey.

[Probably from the hook-like form of the arm taken in raising a drink to the mouth.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
Hooker, Thomas 1586?-1647.
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English-born American cleric who founded Hartford, Connecticut (1636).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
Hooker, Richard 1554?-1600.
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English writer and theologian. His Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1594) was central to the formation of Anglican theology.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
Hooker (hkər), Joseph Known as "Fighting Joe." 1814-1879.
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American Union army officer who was defeated by Robert E. Lee at Chancellorsville (1863).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
Hook·er (hkər), John Lee 1917-2001.
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American singer, guitarist, and songwriter whose characteristic style combined elements of boogie-woogie and traditional blues.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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