from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To cut or chop with repeated and irregular blows: hacked down the saplings.
  • transitive v. To break up the surface of (soil).
  • transitive v. Informal To alter (a computer program): hacked her text editor to read HTML.
  • transitive v. To gain access to (a computer file or network) illegally or without authorization: hacked the firm's personnel database.
  • transitive v. Slang To cut or mutilate as if by hacking: hacked millions off the budget.
  • transitive v. Slang To cope with successfully; manage: couldn't hack a second job.
  • intransitive v. To chop or cut something by hacking.
  • intransitive v. Informal To write or refine computer programs skillfully.
  • intransitive v. Informal To use one's skill in computer programming to gain illegal or unauthorized access to a file or network: hacked into the company's intranet.
  • intransitive v. To cough roughly or harshly.
  • n. A rough, irregular cut made by hacking.
  • n. A tool, such as a hoe, used for hacking.
  • n. A blow made by hacking.
  • n. A rough, dry cough.
  • n. A horse used for riding or driving; a hackney.
  • n. A worn-out horse for hire; a jade.
  • n. One who undertakes unpleasant or distasteful tasks for money or reward; a hireling.
  • n. A writer hired to produce routine or commercial writing.
  • n. A carriage or hackney for hire.
  • n. Informal A taxicab.
  • n. Informal See hackie.
  • transitive v. To let out (a horse) for hire.
  • transitive v. To make banal or hackneyed with indiscriminate use.
  • intransitive v. To drive a taxicab for a living.
  • intransitive v. To work for hire as a writer.
  • intransitive v. To ride on horseback at an ordinary pace.
  • adj. By, characteristic of, or designating routine or commercial writing: hack prose.
  • adj. Hackneyed; banal.
  • hack out Informal To produce (written material, for example), especially hastily or routinely: hacked out a weekly column.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To hack into; to gain unauthorized access to (a computer system, e.g., a website, or network) by manipulating code; to crack.
  • v. By extension, to gain unauthorised access to a computer or online account belonging to (a person or organisation).
  • v. To accomplish a difficult programming task.
  • v. To make a quick code change to patch a computer program, often one that is inelegant or that makes the program harder to maintain.
  • v. To work on an intimately technical level.
  • v. To strike an opponent's leg with one's hockey stick.
  • v. To make a flailing attempt to hit the puck with a hockey stick.
  • v. To swing at a pitched ball.
  • v. To strike in a frantic movement.
  • n. A gouge or notch made by such a blow.
  • n. A dry cough.
  • n. The foothold traditionally cut into the ice from which the person who throws the rock pushes off for delivery.
  • n. A mattock or a miner's pick.
  • n. An illegal attempt to gain access to a computer network.
  • n. An interesting technical achievement, particularly in computer programming.
  • n. A small code change meant to patch a problem as quickly as possible.
  • n. An expedient, temporary solution, meant to be replaced with a more elegant solution at a later date.
  • n. Time check.
  • n. A swing of the bat at a pitched ball by the batter.
  • n. A board which the falcon's food is placed on; used by extension for the state of partial freedom in which they are kept before being trained.
  • n. A food-rack for cattle.
  • n. A rack used to dry bricks.
  • v. To lay (bricks) on a rack to dry.
  • v. To keep (young hawks) in a state of partial freedom, before they are trained.
  • n. Someone who is available for hire; hireling, mercenary.
  • n. A taxicab (hackney cab) driver.
  • n. An untalented writer.
  • n. One who is professionally successful despite producing mediocre work. (Usually applied to persons in a creative field.)
  • n. A talented writer-for-hire, paid to put others' thoughts into felicitous language.
  • n. A political agitator. (slightly derogatory)
  • v. To make common or cliched; to vulgarise.
  • v. To ride a horse at a regular pace; to ride on a road (as opposed to riding cross-country etc.).
  • v. To be exposed or offered or to common use for hire; to turn prostitute.
  • v. To live the life of a drudge or hack.
  • n. A small ball usually made of woven cotton or suede and filled with rice, sand or some other filler, for the use in hackeysack.
  • v. To play hackeysack.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Hackneyed; hired; mercenary.
  • n. A frame or grating of various kinds; as, a frame for drying bricks, fish, or cheese; a rack for feeding cattle; a grating in a mill race, etc.
  • n. Unburned brick or tile, stacked up for drying.
  • n. A notch; a cut.
  • n. An implement for cutting a notch; a large pick used in breaking stone.
  • n. A hacking; a catch in speaking; a short, broken cough.
  • n. A kick on the shins, or a cut from a kick.
  • n. A clever computer program or routine within a program to accomplish an objective in a non-obvious fashion.
  • n. A quick and inelegant, though functional solution to a programming problem.
  • n. A taxicab.
  • n. A horse, hackneyed or let out for common hire; also, a horse used in all kinds of work, or a saddle horse, as distinguished from hunting and carriage horses.
  • n. A coach or carriage let for hire; a hackney coach; formerly, a coach with two seats inside facing each other; now, usually a taxicab.
  • n. The driver of a hack; a taxi driver; a hackman.
  • n. A bookmaker who hires himself out for any sort of literary work; an overworked man; a drudge.
  • n. A procuress.
  • intransitive v. To cough faintly and frequently, or in a short, broken manner.
  • intransitive v. To ride or drive as one does with a hack horse; to ride at an ordinary pace, or over the roads, as distinguished from riding across country or in military fashion.
  • intransitive v. To be exposed or offered to common use for hire; to turn prostitute.
  • intransitive v. To live the life of a drudge or hack.
  • transitive v. To cut irregulary, without skill or definite purpose; to notch; to mangle by repeated strokes of a cutting instrument.
  • transitive v. Fig.: To mangle in speaking.
  • transitive v. To program (a computer) for pleasure or compulsively; especially, to try to defeat the security systems and gain unauthorized access to a computer.
  • transitive v. To bear, physically or emotionally.
  • transitive v. To kick the shins of (an opposing payer).
  • transitive v. To use as a hack; to let out for hire.
  • transitive v. To use frequently and indiscriminately, so as to render trite and commonplace.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make irregular cuts in or upon; mangle by repeated strokes of a cutting instrument; cut or notch at random.
  • To dress off the more prominent parts of (stone) with a hack-hammer.
  • To chap; frost-bite, as the hands.
  • To kick, as one player another in foot-ball; bruise by kicking.
  • To break up, as clods of earth after plowing.
  • To chop; cut: as, to keep hacking away at a log.
  • To hop on one leg.
  • To toil; work laboriously; strive to attain something.
  • To stammer; stutter. Also hacker.
  • To emit short sharp sounds in coughing; cough slightly and frequently; be affected by a short, broken, dry cough. Compare hawk.
  • To chatter with cold.
  • To place (bricks) in rows to dry before burning.
  • n. A horse kept for hire; hence, a horse adapted for general service, such as that required of horses kept for hire, especially for driving and riding.
  • n. A carriage kept for hire; a hackney-coach.
  • n. A drudge; one who is overworked; especially, a literary drudge; a person hired to write according to direction or demand.
  • n. A procuress; a prostitute.
  • Hired; mercenary; much used or worn, like a hired horse; hackneyed: as, a hack writer.
  • To ride on the road; ride with an ordinary horse or pace: opposed to cross-country riding, cavalry riding, etc.
  • To drive in a hack.
  • To be common or vulgar; turn prostitute; have to do with prostitutes.
  • To let out for hire: as, to hack a horse.
  • To do work as a hack or literary drudge: as, to hack for a living.
  • n. A cut; a notch.
  • n. A cut in a tree to indicate a particular spot, or a series of cuts made in a number of trees as a guide through woods; a blazed line.
  • n. In foot-ball, a kick on the shin; also, a bruise produced by kicking.
  • n. A stroke on one's own account; turn at doing something: as, every one feels obliged to take a hack at it.
  • n. A blunt ax; a cutting-tool for notching or hacking trees to bleed them, as in gathering the sap of the maple.
  • n. A pick; a pickax; a mattock; a spade; a hack-iron.
  • n. The lights, liver, and heart of a boar or swine. Holme, 1688.
  • n. Broken or hesitating speech.
  • n. A grated frame. , ,
  • n. In falconry, partial liberty. See the extract.
  • n. A haw; a hedge.
  • n. Same as hackbut.
  • n. The board on which a hawk′ s meat is laid.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a saddle horse used for transportation rather than sport etc.
  • n. a horse kept for hire
  • v. cough spasmodically
  • v. cut away
  • n. a tool (as a hoe or pick or mattock) used for breaking up the surface of the soil
  • v. fix a computer program piecemeal until it works
  • v. kick on the shins
  • v. significantly cut up a manuscript
  • n. a mediocre and disdained writer
  • n. a politician who belongs to a small clique that controls a political party for private rather than public ends
  • v. be able to manage or manage successfully
  • n. an old or over-worked horse
  • v. cut with a hacking tool
  • n. one who works hard at boring tasks
  • n. a car driven by a person whose job is to take passengers where they want to go in exchange for money
  • v. kick on the arms


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English hakken, from Old English -haccian; see keg- in Indo-European roots. V., intr., sense 2, back-formation from hacker1.
Short for hackney.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English tohaccian ("hack to pieces")

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Variations of hatch, heck.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Abbreviation of hackney ("an ordinary horse"), probably from place name Hackney

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From hackysack


  • I'm not 100% well at present and I think it was because I was in a room full of cigarette smoke on saturday night. * hack hack* gonna have to stay away from smokers for awhile.

    phelicity Diary Entry

  • "Like, what about if I only go to work but I promise not to stay late and - * hack hackCOUGH snort hack*"

    Damn Hell Ass Kings

  • * hack, hack* meanwhile, back in hazard county ...

    vampishone Diary Entry

  • Through misuse, the term hack has become synonymous with illegal activity, such as breaking into a computer system and stealing data, but its original meaning is benign.

    Zen Computer

  • It's heavily based on the Digital Multiplex theme, main hack is to shift the navbar to the right.

    March 16th, 2004

  • Of course, the term "hack" has taken on a different and altogether more sinister meaning in the British press since the century-and-a-half-old

    NPR Topics: News

  • I am not arguing the legality per se but the use of the term hack or hacker.

    Elections - fresh news by

  • But the rest of the hack is a simple matter of connecting a stereo cable to the outputs on a wireless doorbell sounding unit and then to the camera itself, creating a shutter trigger you can fire off from nearly anywhere nearby with the doorbell button.

    Turn A Wireless Doorbell Into A Remote Camera Trigger | Lifehacker Australia

  • The company displays a sign with the word "hack" in large letters at the entrance to its Palo Alto, Calif., offices.

    Facebook Hires Whiz 'GeoHot'

  • Well, I wouldn't describe myself as a Gibson fan-boy, but I think calling him a hack is a little strong.

    REVIEW: Schismatrix Plus by Bruce Sterling


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "The technique we used to try and reestablish the falcons in the Smokies was to hack the birds in high protected cliff ledges."

    Kim DeLozier & Carolyn Jourdan, Bear in the Back Seat: Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger (2013)

    "The hacking process involved feeding young birds that couldn't yet fly in a controlled situation, inside a large wooden box with little human contact, until they matured enough to grow some flight feathers."


    "We started our program by taking captive-bred birds to a hack box located high atop a cliff on Greenbrier Pinnacle."


    October 30, 2015

  • "in the 21st century, a funny thing happened. The notion of a hack as a solution to a problem, or an ingenious shortcut, or an imaginative creation, began spreading to practically any activity you can name. "

    A Nation of Hackers, June 9, 2015 by Allan Metcalf in Lingua Franca, The Chronicle of Higher Education (a number of usage examples there as well)

    June 16, 2015

  • A taxi (Belfast)

    July 27, 2011

  • "Falconry has been a hunting sport since 2000 BC originating in ancient China and Egypt and since then the technique of hacking has been used and evolved. The term “hacking,” however, was not coined until the Elizabethan era. During that period, falconers brought a “hack,” an old English word for a type of wagon, to a hilltop and placed young falcons upon it when they still did not know how to fly yet."

    - Wikipedia

    August 11, 2010

  • According to my young adult children in 2009, the terms "can" or "can't hack it" --meaning being able to do something or not--are becoming obsolete. They didn't understand me, and thought immediately of computers. In the 70's and 80's, those were very common slang phrases.

    November 11, 2009

  • There's another noun definition for this word when it refers to the result of hacking (on a computer program). As in, "Bob came up with this clever hack to get our database working again."

    July 8, 2009

  • Cough. A tired old horse. Computer hacking. Chop carelessly.

    January 16, 2007