Hijack
Posted: 30 May 2007 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I was rather surprised to look up “hijack” in the OED to find it marked “origin unknown”.  Is this one that’s been done before?  Is there a least a folk etymology out there somewhere?

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Posted: 30 May 2007 06:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Various theories are out there.  Here‘s an interesting selection, which includes whisky smuggling, “put ‘em high, Jack”, truncation of “highway jacker”, or a corruption of a similar-sounding Chinese word.  My own pet theory is that it’s from cards ("aces high, jack ...") The link says that “hijack” appears to have begun to proliferate during the prohibition period from 1919.

Edit - maybe my theory may have more substance than I thought.  From An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling: Designed Especially as a Warning to the ... - Page 188 by Jonathan Harrington Greene - 1847

B thinks this almost impossible, as he supposes that his ace, queen, and jack are good for high, jack, and game.

Maybe.  Or maybe:

He’s taken a trick there that he cannot keep. Doug. I’ll off to Court our Queen of Hearts to save. But this High Jack shall never win the game.

The Lady Of The Lake 1860, in The Minor Drama: A Collection of the Most Popular Petit Comedies, Vaudevilles, Burlettas published by W Taylor & Co.

[ Edited: 30 May 2007 07:36 PM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 30 May 2007 11:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Eliza, I am amazed by your resourcefulness, but sadly, I cannot access the relevant page in the book you link to.  Does it mention my own theory (formed from no evidence beyond my own fancy) that it arose from the following little scene:  Man in middle of road to driver of lorry he’s just flagged down “Hi, Jack...” ("Jack" being a general term of address, like “buddy”, “mate”, “amigo” etc.)?

Now where the hell does one put the question mark in the above construction?

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Posted: 31 May 2007 05:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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from Word-Detective:

One attempts to trace “hijack” to the exclamation “Hi Jack!”, supposedly the standard greeting offered by a highwayman to his victim. Another, only marginally more plausible in my book, interprets “hijack” as “High, Jack,” the robber’s order to his victims to raise their hands high in the air. So until somebody comes up with something a bit more plausible, I’m afraid the jury is still out on “hijack.”

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Posted: 01 June 2007 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I just added hijack to the Big List.

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Posted: 19 August 2011 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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We just saw Cowboys and Aliens. A character used the word hijacking. It seems to be set around the turn of the twentieth century so this struck me as slightly anachronistic.

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