• Morgan Fagg

Can you hack it? (English Lesson)

While talking with a group of journalists that I was taking for an English class, I asked them if they knew what "hack" meant? I didn't specify a hack or to hack or two hacks with a blunt object.

The obvious answer of course was to hack a computer and they talked about hackers so clearly these hacks (offensive description for journalists) couldn't fully hack it.


Hack has several meanings and as I delved into the numbers definitions of the word hack, it was clear some were either new to me or were examples I (cough) wouldn't have ever thought about.


Firstly the English language has been around longer than computers so Hacker didn't mean anything before the 1940s and I am sure Alan Turing and his team in Bletcley Park who broke the German Enigma code were both the original computer engineers and ironically, the first hackers/crackers.


Some people will argue over the use of hacker versus cracker but for this English exercise, I want journalists to know three things, hacking computers which they already know, a hack is a description for a writer/journalist and to hack can be to hit someone/something with a blunt object or axe.

I imagine the violent attacks like Lizzie Borden in America where a daughter was accused of hacking her parents to death.


Because of the confusion of words having several meanings, when I read a recent headline about Saudi Arabia hacking a journalist, I didn't know if they had hacked the hack's computer or if the had killed him violently like what happened with Jamal Khashoggi.

Looking at Wordreference.com you will find several meanings and some additional meanings

Forget you saw hack-saw that's too confusing but let's look at some life hacks.


Some additional versions of hack I see used include an old horse and coughing but I wouldn't expect to see that used much today and even if an old hack (horse) was hacking up its lungs, I would just say the horse was coughing excessively.

Life-Hack on the other hand is important to include as you see it all the time on Youtube and websites and we live in the 21st century so Life-Hack is more important than some of the other references on the list.


Hack as in a horse for hire becomes a little relevant as I imagine that is where the name for a taxi, a hackney comes from but as we opt for Ubers and Cabifi, Hackney loses its relevant in modern English.

If you can hack it, great, if not just be glad you can understand enough of the modern references to hack along at a nice easy pace.


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© 2018 by Morgan Fagg.