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30 May 2010

Monday's word - Honkatonk


I love Country and Western music OK, I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I really like it. Remember the old one 'I didn't know God made honkatonk angels'? Who sang that, anyone remember? Anyway, do you know where the term honkatonk comes from? I don't either - but here's a snippet I gleaned form Michael Quinion's *'Worldwide Words'. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to be true!

Every child of the range can tell what honkatonk means and where it came from. Away, away back in the very early days, so the story goes, a party of cow punchers rode out from camp at sundown in search of recreation after a day of toil. They headed for a place of amusement, but lost the trail. From far out in the distance there finally came to their ears a "honk-a-tonk-a-tonk-a-tonk-a," which they mistook for the bass viol. They turned toward the sound, to find alas! a flock of wild geese. So honkatonk was named.

[Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), 3 Feb. 1900.]


This article is reproduced with permission from:
*World Wide Words - copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2010. All rights reserved. The Words Web site is at http://www.worldwidewords.org/