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[hoot-n-an-ee, hoot-nan-] /ˈhut nˌæn i, ˈhutˌnæn-/
noun, plural hootenannies.
a social gathering or informal concert featuring folk singing and, sometimes, dancing.
an informal session at which folk singers and instrumentalists perform for their own enjoyment.
Older Use. a thingumbob.
Origin of hootenanny
1910-15; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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British Dictionary definitions for hootenanny


noun (pl) -nies
an informal performance by folk singers
(mainly US) something the name of which is unspecified or forgotten
Word Origin
C20: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hootenanny

"informal session of folk musicians," 1940, American English, earlier "a gadget" (1927), of unknown origin, perhaps a nonsense word.

Another device used by the professional car thief, and one recently developed to perfection, according to a large Chicago lock-testing laboratory, is a "hootenanny," so-called by the criminals using it. ["Popular Mechanics," February 1931]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for hootenanny



  1. Any unspecified or unspecifiable object; something one does not know the name of or does not wish to name; gadget, gizmo: He took a little hootenanny off the shelf and blew into it (1925+)
  2. A folk-music entertainment, esp one where the audience participates (1940s+)

[one of many fanciful coinages for something unspecified; probably related to hooter, ''anything trifling,'' found fr the mid-1800s, and to hewgag, ''an indeterminate, unknown mythical creature,'' similarly found; the syllable hoo-, which is prominent in such coinages, probably represents the interrogative pronoun who; the folk-music sense is based on this, in spite of a fanciful explanation by the singer Woody Guthrie, involving a loud singer called Hootin' Annie]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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