Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hack n.1

[abbr. SE hackney carriage/cab-driver; non-vehicular refs. reflect the idea of being available ‘for hire’; note Ward, The London Spy (1699): ‘His beard [...] was as well-grown as a Hackney-Writers in the middle of a Long Vacation’; note Gradus ad Cantabrigiam (1803): ‘hack, a hack preacher “the common exhibitioners of St. Mary’s, employed in the service of defaulters and absentees”’]

1. (also hackman) the driver of a hackney carriage.

[UK]Halifax Addns. to Works (1750) 75: But at St. Clement's Church, eat out the back; / And slipping through the Palsgrave, bilkt poor Hack .
[UK]R. Steele Guardian (1826) No. 14 60: The happy minute [...] when our hack had the happiness to take in his expected fare, attended by her mother .
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 7 Dec. 6/4: Having stopped at the latter place for a short time, the hackman drove to Flushing .
[US]A. Trumble Mysteries of N.Y. 15: ‘There ain’t no use talking,’ said a grizzled old night hackman [...] ‘I’ll lay my hack and hosses again a five cent nickel [etc]’man.
[US]Ade Fables in Sl. (1902) 105: They licked two Hackmen, set fire to an Awning, pulled down many Signs.
[US]L.A. Eve. Express 22 Nov. 🌐 The hackman who [...] did not gather in enough yellow gold with which to build for his declining years a mansion [...] ought to be investigated by his union.
[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 64: I have found the ‘cabby’ a mine of information in every city that I have visited. [...] If you can find a wise hackman he can put you ‘next’ to more things on more policemen’s beats.
[US]Van Loan ‘For the Pictures’ in Taking the Count 324: The hack can drive on.
[US]Ade ‘The Dream That Came Out’ in Ade’s Fables 159: Selena pulled her tall-grass French on a Hackman, but there was nothing doing.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 30 Apr. [synd. col.] After conducting himself as an almots model hackman for thirteen years [etc].

2. a prostitute; one who is sexually experienced [abbr. hackney n. (1)].

[UK]Only True and Exact Calendar title page: A great many Common Hacks are in Town, to Run for small Plates, among whom are, Miss Jenny Whim, Molly May, Dianna Frost, Miss Handy, Dolly Thunderbum.
[[UK]Sporting Mag. Aug. VIII 271/1: She [i.e. ‘a sporting lady’] was originally bought in london, by two gentlemen in partnership, and used then as a common hack].
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) VIII 1528: These varied positions test whether the female is a hack or a greenhorn.

3. (also hackney, hackney writer) a reporter, a journalist, formerly derog. but recently popular, if tongue-in-cheek.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Hacks or Hackneys hirelings. Hackney-scriblers, Poor Hirelings Mercenary Writers.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: hackney writer one who writes for attornies or booksellers.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]W. Combe Doctor Syntax, Picturesque (1868) 84: They’re common hacks.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 511: ‘I would not, were I a bricklayer’s labourer,’ exclaimed Bob, ‘exchange situations with this unfortunate literary hack.’.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville White Rose 195: I’m what they call a hack, I believe, on a penny paper.
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 391: In spite of what these journalistic hacks and quacks would call extenuating circumstances.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 1 June [synd. col.] I’m no exception to that unattainable urge that afflicts every hack. That is to quit everything and go off some place.
[UK](con. 1928) R. Westerby Mad in Pursuit 94: This is Miss Aiken, a fellow hack.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 31 Mar. in Proud Highway (1997) 113: Who are these hacks who spew out these articles, anyway?
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 28 June in Proud Highway (1997) 625: Anderson’s review was typical of most screeds turned out by cheap hacks.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 226: Sometimes he can get a bit stroppy with hacks.
[UK]A. Frewin London Blues 32: Your typical hack wants the big one placed on his desk—all trussed-up and oven-ready.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 4 Jan. 4: The usual hacks [...] savoured his humiliation with sadistic pleasure.
[Scot]L. McIlvanney All the Colours 304: [A] hack is scarcely better than a cop.
[SA]IOL News (Western Cape) 24 Dec. 🌐 An extended Vaalie-Cape Town family settling down to lamb stuffed with rosemary [...] leaving no leftovers for a hungry sport hack.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] A titty-mag hack who’d gone to the dark side and started reporting crime.

4. anyone who acts as a ‘yes-man’, esp. in politics.

[UK]Satirist (London) 10 Apr. 4/3: [of a newspaper] That Tory hack, The Morning Post, has the following sentence in one of its leaden articles .
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Men, Big World 106: A party hack by the name of Creeden, a former chief of police, had been appointed by Mayor Marley.
[US]A. Baraka Slave in Three Negro Plays (1969) Act I: The only people who went out were those tired political hacks.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 157: A political hack like Haynes flouting the law.
[US]Michael Burlingame Inner World of Abraham Lincoln 1: [heading] Lincoln’s Midlife Crisis: From Party Hack to Statesman.
[US]Roger W. Bowen Japan’s Dysfunctional Democracy 11: Mon Yoshiro, an LDP party hack not held in high regard by fellow members.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] One of the mayor’s hacks says, ‘The community is not going to like that’.
[US]A. Kirzman Giuliani 79: [A] boozy black-tie charity event filling the Hilton Hotel’s grand ballroom with [...] assorted government hacks and bottom-feeders.

5. attrib. use of sense 3.

[UK]‘George Orwell’ Keep The Aspidistra Flying (1962) 72: It was queer that a prosperous hack critic like Paul Doring should live in such a place.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 60: If I was a real bright guy instead of a hack newspaper man, maybe I’d think he didn’t kill her at all.

6. (US) a taxicab.

[R. Steele Lying Lover iii. ii: We’ll take a Hack—Our Maids shall go with us].
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 70/2: We walked along the pier and outside, where were a number of omnibusses and hacks awaiting the arrival of the packet.
[US]M. Thompson Hoosier Mosaics 72: Carrie and I must hasten at once to Cincinnati. The hack is waiting; so good bye, my dear friend, God bless you!
[US]‘O. Henry’ letter in Rolling Stones (1913) 267: The hack drivers danced in the pavements in fierce, wild glee.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden Explains 33: At nine o’clock dey comes chasin up t’ door in a hack.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Beat It 41: Eighty-seven hack-drivers with tears in their eyes.
[US]R. Lardner You Know Me Al (1984) 185: I wish you would ask Ben Smith will he have a hack down to the depo to meet us.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 104: Dodging between two hacks at the curb I crossed to the opposite side of the street.
[US](con. 1910s) J.T. Farrell Young Lonigan in Studs Lonigan (1936) 115: The other lads piled into a hack, and were off.
[US]J.K. Butler ‘Saint in Silver’ in Goulart (1967) 48: I sat there in the hack counting over the night’s winnings.
[US](con. 1910s) ‘Harry Grey’ Hoods (1953) 35: A Ford taxicab was standing outside Sam’s [...] ‘It looks like Cockeye’s brother’s hack.’.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 136: Drivin’ a hack or truck, workin’ in a factory.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 136: The arrangements call for the hack to show up sometime after nine.
[US]E. Weiner Big Boat to Bye-Bye 27: We grabbed a hack.

7. in attrib. use of sense 5.

[US]‘Paul Cain’ Fast One (1936) 29: You’re a swell driver, Jakie. You should’ve stayed in the hack racket.

8. (US) a hearse.

[US]‘Mark Twain’ Life on the Mississippi (1914) 392: The Irish got to piling up hacks so, on their funerals, that a funeral left them ragged and hungry for two years afterward.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 147: Bring on your rubber-tired hack. / They’re going to take Albert to the graveyard.
[US]Odum & Johnson Negro and His Songs (1964) 198: Fohty dollar coffin, eighty dollar hack, / carried po’ man to cemetery but failed to bring him back.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 140: Bring out your rubber-tired buggy. / Bring out your rubber-tired hack. / I’m taking my man to the graveyard.
[US] in DARE.

9. (US) an automobile (other than a taxi).

[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 1 Apr. [synd. col.] [They] were rattled down to policeheadquarters [...] in the town hack, known officially as the patrol wagon.
[US]Odum & Johnson Negro Workaday Songs 97: Lord, I’m gonna buy me rubber-tire hack.
[UK]R. Carr Rampant Age 319: That worn-out hack!
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Beyond Justice’ in Spicy Detective Stories Nov. 🌐 That new hack of mine was a speedy sled.
C. Plunkett ‘The Devil’s Race Track’ in Detective Yarns Sept. 🌐 There was a snub-nosed thirty-two automatic in the glove compartment of my hack.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Men, Big World 71: One day, when he had enough moo to leave the big town, he’d have a hack like that, only maybe pink with cream-coloured upholstery.
[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 49: He used her credit card to buy gas for the hack.

10. (Aus./US, also hackman) a taxi-driver.

[US]B. Appel Brain Guy 79: Hell, that hack must’ve figured you a big shot.
[US]J. McNulty ‘Some Nights when Nothing Happens’ This Place on Third Avenue (2001) 4: Johnny, one of the hackmen outside, put the whole thing in a nutshell.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 191: Now I’m just a mug hack lousing the city, but even I get to estimate the rake-off on such joints.
[Can]J. Mandelkau Buttons 61: Talking to the hack on the way into the city.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 265: The hack pulls up on Vine Street in front of the McCullough house.
[US]E. Weiner Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 156: I gave the hack the thumbs-up.

11. an incompetent, an inadequate; occas. as adj.

[US]R. Chandler Playback 206: I’m a tired hack with a doubtful future.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 277: The man seemed to relish being maligned as a hack and a clown.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 10 July 10: One drastic face-lift performed by a hack surgeon.
[Aus]G. Disher Kill Shot [ebook] Like most escort services, hers catered to convention hacks—husbands and fathers who were variously shy, drunk, impotent, thankful, underappreciated and aggrieved.

12. (N.Z.) a customer, as in a pub.

[NZ]J.A. Lee Shiner Slattery 119: ‘Look, there’s two hacks on the rail.’ [...] ‘Two customers.’.

13. a worker of any type, the image is of monotonous ‘grind’.

[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 55: It’s those overpaid, spineless factory hacks and their demonic craving for firewater.

14. (US Und.) a rented gun.

[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 241: ‘The gun got passed on or sold’ [...] ‘Or it was a hack [...] Whoever killed Asa Johnson rented it to Lyons.’.

In compounds

hack-pusher (n.)

(Aus./US) a taxi-driver.

[US]‘Mae West in “The Hip Flipper”’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 91: Lotta caught up with a dumb cluck hack pusher [...] and let him drive her home.
[US](con. WWII) James Jones Thin Red Line (1963) 268: There was no doubt in his hard hackpusher’s mind about which side he would be on.
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. (2nd edn) 213: Hack pusher, a taxi driver.
hack rack (n.)

(US) a taxicab stand.

[US] ‘Miscellany’ in AS LI (1976) 287: Cab stand, taxi stand,...hack rack.

In phrases

away on a hack (adj.) (also away in a hack)

(Irish) lucky, successful.

[Ire]‘Flann O’Brien’ At Swim-Two-Birds 90: We’re right for the night. We’re away on a hack.
[UK]B. Kiely Honey Seems Bitter 50: Boy, you’re in the swim. You’re away on a hack.
[Ire]L. Dunne Goodbye to the Hill (1986) 188: I knew that if I could get talking to him, and maybe do a song or two, I’d be away in a hack.
L. Dunne Bed in the Sticks (2014) [ebook] ‘The trick is to give [readers]what they want’ and it doesn’t take long to work out that it’s laughs and tears, and if you can work a nice bust in a tight sweater in the story, you're away in a hack.
[Ire]R. Doyle Van (1998) 598: I was away on a hack until you opened your fuckin’ mouth.
[Ire](con. 1978) G. Byrne Pictures in my Head 89: Grind your teeth like so and get a look of ‘I don’t give a bollicks’ and you’re away in a hack.
[Ire]J. O’Connor Salesman 183: And if you were half as clever in school you’d be away in a hack.
[Ire]T. Flynn You’re Grand [ebook] Once we discovered reality shows, we were away on a hack.
make a hack of (v.) [fig. use of SE hack, a horse for ordinary riding, as distinguished from cross-country, milit., or other special riding]

to wear the same dress every day.

[UK]H. Baumann Londinismen (2nd edn).