Sunday, December 04, 2011

Word of the Day: Hawker

Today I heard that an old schoolmate had insisted that we should develop a new generation of hawkers. At which point, I reflected that I knew at least three definitions of 'hawker' in the sense of 'one who hawks'.

First: a hawker (from a Germanic root-word meaning 'to carry on one's back') is an itinerant vendor. The oddity of course is that street food, the stuff most often being hawked, tends now to be sold from immobile stalls (haha, 'stall' of course has another appropriate meaning here).

Second: a hawker is one who hunts with a hawk. In this sense, the word 'hawk' comes from another old word meaning to grasp or seize — very much as the word 'raptor' comes from the Latin for something very similar in concept.

Third: a hawker is one who expectorates violently. I think this one's onomatopoeic. Heh.

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