Saturday, December 10, 2011


My 22-year old daughter casually introduced me to a new word a few weeks ago. At least, it was new to me. I have been mulling it over ever since.

I mentioned I liked her jacket and she said she had "horked it."


She explained that she had borrowed the jacket from a friend a long time ago but had never given it back. She was pretty sure the friend had forgotten about it, and did not really mind, but was also pretty sure the friend would want the jacket back if it came to her attention.

Honesty demanded my daughter say something more than "I borrowed it." But it wasn't stolen, either, since she hadn't taken it with the intent to "deprive the owner of its use and benefit," and her friend lets her borrow stuff all the time. Hence, "horked" was the exact word for the occasion.

This was verbal terrain that needed a verb.

"Perfeck!" says Pop Larkin.

A dip into the urban dictionary reveals that the verb "to hork" has a variety of colorful meanings, all of which are pejorative and hover around some type of physical or moral chaos.

Among computer and electronics folks, it is used to suggest that something is not just broken, but is causing mischief: "your code totally horked the build today; those new speakers horked my amp."

The Canadian usage is the one my daughter adopted. Bob and Doug McKenzie memorably complained that someone had "horked their beer."

While it is possible to say that Bernie Madoff "horked" 58 billion dollars, it would be inappropriate. "Horking" is the casual misappropriation of stuff among friends and families that is usually tolerated but sometimes causes an explosion in the "horkee." Horking does not involve interventions by law enforcement authorities. We rely on moral suasion to resolve horking controversies.

Bernie: Something Greater Than Horking At Work.

("Horkee" is my addition to the language; just made it up. Thank you.)

One can also "hork up" something through one's nose, in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Eternal Optimist remembers saying something funny to a friend at H.A. Winston's, while my friend was swallowing chicken noodle soup. He tried not to spit up the soup, but internal pressure from the joke had to be released, and the noodles came rushing out his nose. This was much funnier than the joke itself.

Last, and perhaps most objectionably, a cat can "hork up" a hair ball.

The existence of this particular meaning is likely to hork up all other meanings of the word, I'm afraid, since vivid, ugly meanings normally overwhelm milder associations.

Nevertheless, I'm glad I horked the word from my daughter.


  1. I believe I may have horked some books in my time :/

  2. added comment. you can say "someone horked my pen" and people will know exactly what you're talking about. even if they've never heard the word before.

    - 22 year old daughter

  3. A wonderful addition to the language. Herefofore there hasn't been a simple way to convey this thought. Now we have it!

  4. Is Gmall using another new word there - Herefofore? Herefofore sounds like a nice chuckle and then the reason for it. Or am I just being not nice and horking out a joke from someone's unfortunate typo? I'm going to try to be a nicer person. I'm sorry Gmall.

  5. I just horked Mrs. EO's coffee mug, which fits perfectly in the car's coffee-holder. Sorry Mrs. EO.