Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hock n.2

[Du. hok, hutch, hovel, prison; but note gambling jargon, see Asbury, Sucker’s Progress (1938) 15–16: ‘In hock—The last card in the box was said to be in hock. Originally it was known as the hockelty card, and in the early days of Faro, when it counted for the bank, a player who had bet on it was said to have been caught in hock. Also, a gambler who had been trimmed by another sharper was said to be in hock to his conqueror; and as late as the middle 1880’s, in the underworld, a man was in hock when he was in jail. The phrase is now principally used in reference to pawnshop pledges, but it seems to have acquired that meaning in recent years.’]

the state of being pawned; usu. in phr. in hock

[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 249: Hock. pawnbroker’s office.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 277: I knew him when he couldn’t get the ham and eggs out of hock, the shrimp!
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 98/2: Hock, in. 1. Out of funds; broke. 2. In pawn.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Hole in One’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Honestly these rings they know more about hock than a German wine taster!

In compounds

hock sheet (n.)

(US police) a list of stolen goods that may have been pawned.

[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 99: We have to keep an eye on the hock sheets.
hock shop (n.) (also hockshop)

1. a pawnbroker’s shop.

[US]Lantern (N.O.) 22 Sept. 2: Take the bed too, and run it into a hock shop.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 27: ‘Vair you get zis?’ he asked me [...] ‘At a hock shop, for a couple o’ dollars,’ said I.
[US]Courier (Lincoln, Neb.) 1 Nov. 7/1: It is nothing unusual for the hock-shop man to . .
[US]J. Lait ‘Charlie the Wolf’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 39: Ab you don’ shut it up by your rotten hock shop this ferflugte bell I throw right away through your vindeh a teapot.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 117: How about getting them [i.e. pistols] in a hockshop?
[US]J.T. Farrell World I Never Made 222: If he didn’t sell it them, he would try a hock shop.
[US]W.R. Burnett Asphalt Jungle in Four Novels (1984) 234: Can you see me walking into a hock shop with stuff like that?
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Lead With Your Left (1958) 52: Give me more work making the rounds of the hock shops looking for a damn stolen jacket. [Ibid.] 53: Two hock shop tickets dated five and eight days ago.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 262: Neil wouldnt even tell the cops about the stolen guns — wouldnt even check the hockshops.
[US](con. late 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 607: He had got two dollars at a hock shop – it wasn’t much of a camera.
[US]S. King Running Man in Bachman Books (1995) 572: Molie ran a Dock Street hockshop.
[Aus]L. Davies Candy 46: The hock-shop door was locked.

2. a prison.

[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 616: He’s a three time loser and the smartest joe in this hockshop.

In phrases

caught in hock

caught in the act.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum 42: Caught in hock; caught by the heels. ‘If the cove should be caught in the hock he won’t snickle,’ if the fellow should be caught in the act, he would not tell.
in hock

1. in prison; thus the reverse, out of hock.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum 113: Among thieves a man is in hock, when he is in prison .
[US]Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) 25 Jan. 5/5: An Embezzler in Hoc [sic]. Sherrify James Ferguson, of Wyandotte, passed through this city yesterday with a prisoner [...] whom he had arrested [...] upon the charge of embezzling [DA].
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Back to the Woods 60: I [...] rushed away to formulate some plan to get Bunch out of hock.
[US]H.A. Franck Zone Policeman 88 134: To-day there will arrive and also be put in hock the three gents whose names you have there.
[US]Broadway Brevities Aug. 40/1: Betty stuck and finally had Cook trundled over to the night-court [...] Dave hastily donned his galluses, taxied unto the station and took Cook out of hock.
[US]Rocky Mountain News (Denver) 13 Nov. in AS III:3 255/1: In hock, in hospital, out of town, away—In prison.
[US]‘Rags’ Roberts ‘The Old Cook County Jail’ in Stiff Milk and Honey Route (1930) 194: It was a scheme to get me lousy when they landed me in hock.
[US]R. Chandler Little Sister 150: This ex-Cleveland gangster was supposed to be in hock at the County Jail.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 79/2: Get one out of hock. 1. To get one out on bail. 2. (P) To effect one’s release from punishment cells; (by extension) to get one out of his cell any time, as when the guard inadvertently neglects to leave him out for recreation, church services, etc.
[US]E. De Roo Young Wolves 121: I oughta save this for the spring-lawyer to get Pop outa hock.

2. (US) out of sight, suspended from one’s occupation.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 23 Nov. 2/2: How was it that a certain ‘peeler’ was recently kept ‘in hock’ on the quiet, until the ‘bloke’ had sailed from the city?

3. in pawn; thus the reverse, out of hock.

[US]H. Dougherty Oratorical Stump Speaker 26: My other coat’s in hock [DA].
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 270: Torquato Tasso [...] put his father’s sword, four sheets, two table-covers, and an embroidered lawn toga in hock for twenty-five lira.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 7: With the whole bankroll gone and the old cannon in hock, he is still at it.
[US]C.B. Booth ‘Mr Clacksworthy Tells the Truth’ Detective Story 19 Oct. [Internet] You mean th’ nickel-grabbers couldn’t drag in enough jack t’ keep th’ subway out of hock?
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 249: I also got his clothes out of hock, but could never find my own coat, which the Jane had pawned.
[US]A.J. Liebling ‘The Jollity Building’ in Just Enough Liebling (2004) 259: He asked me for a loan of three dollars so he could get his teeth out of hock to con a sucker.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 29: I went right down to take my old flute out of hock.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Riverslake 124: Most of them went into hock for a flash bike, or a car.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 135: Theyll certainly understand what a girl feels like with all her drag clothes in hock!
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water 11: She feeds me when I’m hungry, keeps my clothes out a soak [hock], / and as long as I got this fabulous old broad I can’t be broke.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 22: Their’s [i.e. a television] had been in hock these last two weeks.
[UK]Guardian G2 17 Mar. 18: They’d already be in hock.
[US]E. Weiner Big Boat to Bye-Bye 142: ‘Did he have big debts? Was he in hock to the mob?’.

4. indebted to, owing both money and metaphorical debts; thus the reverse, out of hock.

[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 170: I [...] got some duds out of hock.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 135: The Chief has got that jurist in hock to him, d’y see!
[US]Van Loan ‘Loosening Up of Hogan’ in Ten-Thousand-Dollar Arm 136: Most o them were ‘in hock to the club’ at the beginning of every season.
[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 87: Here I go and put myself in hock to Nate Shapiro for more dough than I ever seen in my life so’s to help Mrs. Willcox out of a hole, and the only enemy I got in the wide, wide world gets the credit for it!
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win 390: I was in hock to friends who saved me from a heavy sentence.
[US]D. Runyon ‘That Ever-Loving Wife of Hymie’s’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 595: I am pretty much in hock here and there.
[US]H. McCoy Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in Four Novels (1983) 108: I want to get Holiday out of hock.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 20: A borrower never gets out of hock.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 212: These men had their lives in hock.
[US]H. Ellison Rockabilly (1963) 162: He’s been getting into hock more and more.
[US]Kerouac letter 16 Jan. in Charters II (1999) 465: He said, ‘Don’t get in hock with the publishers, just sell my letters that I wrote to you.’.
[US]J. Krantz Scruples 293: The Belmondo film went down the toilet, I’m in hock, Maggie.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 282: Did you ever know a pimp who was in hock? Did you ever know a cop who wasn’t?
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 1: The Foster family are up to their eyes in hock. They used to live in a unit in Bondi but they got turfed out.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 382: I told her you still love dope and you’re in hock to some bookies.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 5 May 10: It concerns a cocky gambler [...] in hock to a hooligan bookie.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mystery Bay Blues 19: Now here he was [...] still in hock to Les for two hundred dollars.

5. in trouble.

[US]T. Thursday ‘Art for Artie’ in Argosy All-Story 30 Dec. [Internet] Unless we prepare to meet Japan in the fast approaching future, the Japs will soon be hanging around Times Square like locusts, and then we’ll all be in hock.
on hock

on credit.

[US]K. Huff A Steady Rain I i: joey: And across the living room the screen on the big set… denny: …the 52-incher, the one we just knobbed on hock from Best Buy.