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Origin of “hike”
Posted: 06 August 2019 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The American Heritage Dictionary says “origin unknown.” http://www.Etymononline.com says it’s an English dialectal word of unknown origin.  http://www.dictionary.com said it is a possible variation of “hitch.” Can anyone add to this?  What in what English dialect did it originate?

I asked a few non-native, but highly fluent English speakers whether their language has a word equivalent to hike.  Most struggled and then realized their language doesn’t.  They can obviously convey the feeling of hike, but it takes many words.  It sounds like hike may have been created de novo in English. 

(if you consider all of the meanings associated with hike, there are quite a few:  it’s not climbing Everest or walking in a field, it’s not walking for just 5 minutes, it’s generally done for pleasure, not work, there is a small sense of danger, it’s walking on your legs, not climbing with one’s hands, it’s walking on an unpaved surface….)

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Posted: 07 August 2019 06:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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… it’s generally done for pleasure, not work…

Clearly you’ve never been in the military :-)

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Posted: 07 August 2019 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hike was not a word in my military vocabulary. It was a march or roadmarch, or, if under combat conditions, a patrol.

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Posted: 08 August 2019 05:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Dave Wilton - 07 August 2019 12:38 PM

Hike was not a word in my military vocabulary. It was a march or roadmarch, or, if under combat conditions, a patrol.

We used march also, as well as hump and hike, but it occurs to me that hike might have been used ironically.

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Posted: 08 August 2019 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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As far as I know, hike is not used in the British Army/Navy/Royal Marines; if it ever were, it would be in a strictly ironic sense, as one might call a route march an ‘afternoon stroll’ or a ‘toddle’.

The OED seems somewhat at a loss; it suggests that the words hitch (plus possibly a Northern/Scots form hotch), hike and hoick are all possibly related, but offers little suggestion as to how. Granted, none of the material words have been updated within the last 86 years or more, which doesn’t help.

FWIW, the verb hike in the sense ‘pull/ride up’ doesn’t seem to be native in Rightpondia. One reads and hears it nowadays, probably due to Leftpondian influence, but half a century ago you would have heard of skirts getting hitched up, anglers hoicking trout out of the water, and prices just being increased.

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Posted: 08 August 2019 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Syntinen Laulu - 08 August 2019 06:44 AM

...FWIW, the verb hike in the sense ‘pull/ride up’ doesn’t seem to be native in Rightpondia. One reads and hears it nowadays, probably due to Leftpondian influence, but half a century ago you would have heard of skirts getting hitched up, anglers hoicking trout out of the water, and prices just being increased.

Would this be the origin of the sense of hike in American football?

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Posted: 08 August 2019 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Would this be the origin of the sense of hike in American football?

In this NYT piece, Heisman (of the Heisman Trophy fame) is credited with “Hike” Ben Zimmer suggest that the “hut, hut,” that precedes the “Hike” originated with players who returned from WWII in the 40s and 50s and is from the command “Ten-hut” which called soldiers to “Attention” though we were taught not to say that when calling a squad or company to attention.

Beginning in the late 1890s, Heisman helped spread the growth of the game like a coaching Johnny Appleseed through jobs in Ohio, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Texas. A tireless innovator, Heisman, promoting the forward pass, divided the game into quarters and, in 1898, came up with “hike” as a way for an entire team to know when the ball would be snapped into the backfield.

I wouldn’t swear by the accuracy of that, but there it is.
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Posted: 08 August 2019 07:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Hike was not a word in my military vocabulary. It was a march or roadmarch, or, if under combat conditions, a patrol.

We also used “forced march” for long marches at double-time. The initiating command was “Double-time, March”

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Posted: 08 August 2019 12:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I always found forced march to be somewhat redundant, as if we had any choice in any march.

We never did sustained marches at double time (a jogging pace). You exhaust yourself to quickly. Two miles is about the limit for double time. If you want to go distance fast, quick time is better; you’ll get there faster. (Quick time is the normal marching pace.) Normally, for long marches we used route step, a walking pace in which you don’t stay in step with the others in your unit. Route step is much less tiring than quick time.

I did one long march at double time during my time in the army. It was during my officer’s basic course and the post had it’s annual 10K run one Saturday, open to anyone who wanted to participate. My class ran it as a unit, in formation, double time. Keeping in formation, in step, for that distance was excruciating. Had we run it as individuals, it would have been a breeze.

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Posted: 08 August 2019 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thanks for the responses. 

One of the references dates the use of hike to 1809.  It’s likely before that time that relatively few people went walking in the woods for pleasure (trying to fight off a bear with a musket wasn’t fun, particularly if you missed with your 1st shot and had to reload), so the need for a word like hike at that time was likely low.  They could have conveyed the meaning of hike, but not in such an economical 1-word way.

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Posted: 08 August 2019 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Dave Wilton - 08 August 2019 12:45 PM

...I did one long march at double time during my time in the army. It was during my officer’s basic course and the post had it’s annual 10K run one Saturday, open to anyone who wanted to participate. My class ran it as a unit, in formation, double time. Keeping in formation, in step, for that distance was excruciating. Had we run it as individuals, it would have been a breeze.

Ugh!  Did you have to do it in BDUs and boots?  Can’t imagine doing 10K like that.  We had to do a 5K double time (in gym gear, thankfully) every morning in Navy Aircrewman School.  The first day I was in the rear and I started to drop out (was never a strong runner).  The class instructor halted us and made me get in the front rank.  “Now, if you drop out, all these m*f*s gonna run over you!” he told me.  He forced me to run in the front rank every day. I hated it at first, but after a few days I was running along with the rest of the unit without any problem.

(edit: messed up the quote)

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Posted: 09 August 2019 01:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I always found forced march to be somewhat redundant, as if we had any choice in any march.

The OED on forced (adj), sense 3a:

Produced or maintained with effort; strained.  forced march n. ‘one in which the marching power of the troops is forced or exerted beyond the ordinary limit’ (Adm. Smyth).

The first citation for forced march in the (not-updated) OED entry is from 1769.

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Posted: 09 August 2019 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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One of the references dates the use of hike to 1809.  It’s likely before that time that relatively few people went walking in the woods for pleasure (trying to fight off a bear with a musket wasn’t fun, particularly if you missed with your 1st shot and had to reload

I dunno. My understanding was that nature walks were a common pastime. I picture Wordsworth hiking up a mountain to experience the sublime in nature.

And then, as now, wild animals typically leave humans alone. The dangers of the wilderness are mainly injury far from help, starvation, and exposure to extreme weather, none of which are usually concerns on an afternoon hike.

Did you have to do it in BDUs and boots?  Can’t imagine doing 10K like that.

No, we were in PT (physical training) gear, thank the gods. The worst runs I had in the Army were the half-mile runs from the barracks to the airfield at Ft. Benning during jump week at airborne school. I had pulled a muscle in my back on my first jump, and every step of every subsequent run was agony. The purpose of these runs was to identify those who were hiding injuries in order to complete the course. I was successful at evading detection, but it was awful.

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Posted: 09 August 2019 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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My navy boot camp experience was nothing but marching all day after a short period of calisthenics each morning. I was assigned to a company that guided graduation ceremonies every Friday for the majority of my time in San Diego. I was a right guidon. It was more like a stroll in the park compared to the marine boot camp across the bay. Oh, the torture of it all. (snicker...)

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Posted: 09 August 2019 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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One of the references dates the use of hike to 1809.  It’s likely before that time that relatively few people went walking in the woods for pleasure (trying to fight off a bear with a musket wasn’t fun, particularly if you missed with your 1st shot and had to reload

I dunno. My understanding was that nature walks were a common pastime. I picture Wordsworth hiking up a mountain to experience the sublime in nature.

Actually you’re both right. Yes, pretty much Wordsworth’s entire poetic output was based on vigorous hill-walking; but he and his fellow Romantics were the the first exponents and popularisers of this new activity. In fact, in the first half of the 19th century you couldn’t lay claim to Sensibility (the i attribute of a fashionable Romantic) if you didn’t enjoy, or at least claim to enjoy, walks in the country. All the admirable characters in Jane Austen do; and significantly the tiresome sister of the heroine of Persuasion (published 1817) makes a perfect nuisance of herself by insisting on coming on country walks, although she soon gets tired and petulant, lags behind, has to be helped, etc, rather than decline and be written off ‘not a good walker’.

I find by the way that Wordsworth wasn’t quite the first to enjoy walking the Lakes: see here.

All that said, Wordsworth, Austen & Co didn’t any of them call the activity hiking. The 1809 OED citation, Adieu for the present,—we must Contrive one more Pull at Surry before I hyke over to Staffordshire, sounds like a man who plans to walk more than 100 miles up Watling Street because he can’t afford a horse or the coach fare. It’s not till the second half of the 19th century that the citations start to sound definitely like walking done for the pleasure of walking.

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Posted: 10 August 2019 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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It’s not till the second half of the 19th century that the citations start to sound definitely like walking done for the pleasure of walking.

I’ve always separated the two activities of walking from hiking. Hiking almost always refers to a more strenuous activity of climbing, exploring through rural areas; a more physical exercise than just walking.

When one says, I’m going out for a walk that would convey a different meaning from, I’m going out for a hike.
After all, one doesn’t say: Let’s go for a hike to the supermarket. (Unless of course the supermarket is located on a precipice.)

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