The Origin of “wacko”
Posted: 12 October 2013 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  5
Joined  2013-10-11

Sometimes, I think that the Spanish do not get the credit they are due.  For example, the dictionary gives no etymology for “wacko” other than a guess.  I suggest that this is derived from the Spanish “hueco”, pronounced wecko, the ‘h’ is silent.  We, in New Mexico, use this word to refer to a person with a head not all there as it refers to a fruit, such as a melon, that is over-ripe, mushy or hollow.  That makes sense to me.  What do you say?  Richard Quintana

[ Edited: 12 October 2013 11:11 AM by Quintana ]
Posted: 12 October 2013 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  1541
Joined  2007-03-21

I’d go with the OED’s guess [for the noun “whack” which is undoubtedly the source of “whacky” and “wacko"]

Echoic: perhaps an alteration of thwack n.

Welcome to the discussion!

[ Edited: 12 October 2013 05:21 PM by Oecolampadius ]
Posted: 12 October 2013 11:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  5900
Joined  2007-01-03

Yes, wacko is pretty obviously from [out of] whack (1880s) > wacky (1935) > wacko (1977).

The -o suffix is a pretty common slang suffix in the twentieth century (e.g., wino, cheapo).

There are lots of Spanish contributions to American English, but this doesn’t appear to be one of them.

Posted: 12 October 2013 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  3316
Joined  2007-01-31

Although wacky and wacko may be derived from out of whack, I think it’s at least equally probably that they derive simply from whack, referring to the disoriented state produced, transiently and sometimes chronically, from blows to the head.  Cf. punchy and slap-happy.

[ Edited: 12 October 2013 02:29 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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