Thursday, October 12, 2023

Really Stupid Words, Chapter 22.

You hear a lot about “hacks” nowadays.

Not, in this case, “hack” as a means to cut or sever or chop with repeated irregular or unskillful blows, as most dictionaries define the word’s original and primary meaning.

Nor does it conform to another longstanding sense of being unable to deal with a given situation successfully, as in “he can’t hack it,” or “he’s a hack writer,” both of which can be seen to have evolved from the original meaning.

Nor is the current usage related to the meaning of the word that came along with the rise of computer networks and the internet, where people “hack” into computer systems where they have no business being, whether for fun or to do damage—chopping their way in, so to speak.

No. The current buzzwordy use of hack has to do with something altogether different, and I am not sure how or why it applies. You hear a lot these days about this “hack” or that “hack” that seems (apparently) to be a shortcut or something of the sort. Just lately, I have been advised of “hacks” for life, fishing, parenting, productivity, health, housekeeping, heating and cooling, cooking, cleaning, clothing, crafts, decluttering, organization, school, math, travel, and on and on and on…

On a side note, “hack” seems to be popular with the same people who are fond of “side hustle” (which sounds to me like being up to something no good) and “the gig economy.”

I cannot fathom the word “hack” in this most recent—but already clich├ęd—usage. I guess I wish there were a “hack” for understanding stupid words.