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See more synonyms for hack on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to cut, notch, slice, chop, or sever (something) with or as with heavy, irregular blows (often followed by up or down): to hack meat; to hack down trees.
  2. to break up the surface of (the ground).
  3. to clear (a road, path, etc.) by cutting away vines, trees, brush, or the like: They hacked a trail through the jungle.
  4. to damage or injure by crude, harsh, or insensitive treatment; mutilate; mangle: The editor hacked the story to bits.
  5. to reduce or cut ruthlessly; trim: The Senate hacked the budget severely before returning it to the House.
  6. Slang. to deal or cope with; handle: He can't hack all this commuting.
  7. Computers.
    1. to modify (a computer program or electronic device) or write (a program) in a skillful or clever way: Developers have hacked the app. I hacked my tablet to do some very cool things.
    2. to circumvent security and break into (a network, computer, file, etc.), usually with malicious intent: Criminals hacked the bank's servers yesterday. Our team systematically hacks our network to find vulnerabilities.
  8. Informal. to make use of a tip, trick, or efficient method for doing or managing (something): to hack a classic recipe; to hack your weekend with healthy habits.
  9. Basketball. to strike the arm of (an opposing ball handler): He got a penalty for hacking the shooter.
  10. British. to kick or kick at the shins of (an opposing player) in Rugby football.
  11. South Midland and Southern U.S. to embarrass, annoy, or disconcert.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to make rough cuts or notches; deal cutting blows.
  2. to cough harshly, usually in short and repeated spasms.
  3. Computers.
    1. to modify a computer program or electronic device in a skillful or clever way: to hack around with HTML.
    2. to break into a network, computer, file, etc., usually with malicious intent.
  4. Tennis.
    1. to take a poor, ineffective, or awkward swing at the ball.
    2. to play tennis at a mediocre level.
  5. British. to kick or kick at an opponent's shins in Rugby football.
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  1. a cut, gash, or notch.
  2. a tool, as an ax, hoe, or pick, for hacking.
  3. an act or instance of hacking; a cutting blow.
  4. a short, rasping dry cough.
  5. a hesitation in speech.
  6. Computers.
    1. a piece of code that modifies a computer program in a skillful or clever way: software hacks.
    2. an act or instance of breaking into a network, computer, file, etc., usually with malicious intent (often used attributively): a hack on our system; a recent hack attack.
  7. Informal. a tip, trick, or efficient method for doing or managing something: hacks for holiday entertaining; parenting hacks.
  8. Curling. an indentation made in the ice at the foot score, for supporting the foot in delivering the stone.
  9. British. a gash in the skin produced by a kick, as in Rugby football.
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Verb Phrases
  1. hack around, Slang. to pass the time idly; indulge in idle talk.
  2. hack into, Computers. to break into (a network, computer, file, etc.), usually with malicious intent: Students tried to hack into their school server to change their grades.
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  1. hack it, Slang. to handle or cope with a situation or an assignment adequately and calmly: The new recruit just can't hack it.
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Origin of hack1

1150–1200; Middle English hacken; compare Old English tōhaccian to hack to pieces; cognate with Dutch hakken, German hacken

Synonym study

1. mangle, haggle.

Synonym study

1. See cut.


  1. a person, as an artist or writer, who exploits, for money, his or her creative ability or training in the production of dull, unimaginative, and trite work; one who produces banal and mediocre work in the hope of gaining commercial success in the arts: As a painter, he was little more than a hack.
  2. a professional who renounces or surrenders individual independence, integrity, belief, etc., in return for money or other reward in the performance of a task normally thought of as involving a strong personal commitment: a political hack.
  3. a writer who works on the staff of a publisher at a dull or routine task; someone who works as a literary drudge: He was one among the many hacks on Grub Street.
  4. British.
    1. a horse kept for common hire or adapted for general work, especially ordinary riding.
    2. a saddle horse used for transportation, rather than for show, hunting, or the like.
  5. an old or worn-out horse; jade.
  6. a coach or carriage kept for hire; hackney.
  7. Informal.
    1. a taxi.
    2. Also hackie.a cabdriver.
  8. Slang. a prison guard.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make a hack of; let out for hire.
  2. to make trite or stale by frequent use; hackney.
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verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. to drive a taxi.
  2. to ride or drive on the road at an ordinary pace, as distinguished from cross-country riding or racing.
  3. British. to rent a horse, especially by the hour.
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  1. hired as a hack; of a hired sort: a hack writer; hack work.
  2. hackneyed; trite; banal: hack writing.
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Origin of hack2

First recorded in 1680–90; short for hackney


  1. a rack for drying food, as fish.
  2. a rack for holding fodder for livestock.
  3. a low pile of unburnt bricks in the course of drying.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to place (something) on a hack, as for drying or feeding.
  2. Falconry. to train (a young hawk) by letting it fly freely and feeding it at a hack board or a hack house.
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  1. at hack, Falconry. (of a young hawk) being trained to fly freely but to return to a hack house or hack board for food rather than to pursue quarry.
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Origin of hack3

First recorded in 1565–75; variant of hatch2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for hack


  1. (when intr, usually foll by at or away) to cut or chop (at) irregularly, roughly, or violently
  2. to cut and clear (a way, path, etc), as through undergrowth
  3. (in sport, esp rugby) to foul (an opposing player) by kicking or striking his shins
  4. basketball to commit the foul of striking (an opposing player) on the arm
  5. (intr) to cough in short dry spasmodic bursts
  6. (tr) to reduce or cut (a story, article, etc) in a damaging way
  7. to manipulate a computer program skilfully, esp, to gain unauthorized access to another computer system
  8. (tr) slang to tolerate; cope withI joined the army but I couldn't hack it
  9. hack to bits to damage severelyhis reputation was hacked to bits
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  1. a cut, chop, notch, or gash, esp as made by a knife or axe
  2. any tool used for shallow digging, such as a mattock or pick
  3. a chopping blow
  4. a dry spasmodic cough
  5. a kick on the shins, as in rugby
  6. a wound from a sharp kick
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See also hack off

Word Origin

Old English haccian; related to Old Frisian hackia, Middle High German hacken


  1. a horse kept for riding or (more rarely) for driving
  2. an old, ill-bred, or overworked horse
  3. a horse kept for hire
  4. British a country ride on horseback
  5. a drudge
  6. a person who produces mediocre literary or journalistic work
  7. Also called: hackney US a coach or carriage that is for hire
  8. Also called: hackie US informal
    1. a cab driver
    2. a taxi
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  1. British to ride (a horse) cross-country for pleasure
  2. (tr) to let (a horse) out for hire
  3. (tr) informal to write (an article) as or in the manner of a hack
  4. (intr) US informal to drive a taxi
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  1. (prenominal) banal, mediocre, or unoriginalhack writing
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Word Origin

C17: short for hackney


  1. a rack used for fodder for livestock
  2. a board on which meat is placed for a hawk
  3. a pile or row of unfired bricks stacked to dry
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verb (tr)
  1. to place (fodder) in a hack
  2. to place (bricks) in a hack
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Word Origin

C16: variant of hatch ²
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

Word Origin and History for hack


"to cut roughly, cut with chopping blows," c.1200, from verb found in stem of Old English tohaccian "hack to pieces," from West Germanic *hakkon (cf. Old Frisian hackia "to chop or hack," Dutch hakken, Old High German hacchon, German hacken), from PIE *keg- "hook, tooth." Perhaps influenced by Old Norse höggva "to hack, hew" (cf. hacksaw). Slang sense of "cope with" (such as in can't hack it) is first recorded in American English 1955, with a sense of "get through by some effort," as a jungle (cf. phrase hack after "keep working away at" attested from late 14c.). Related: Hacked; hacking.

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"person hired to do routine work," c.1700, ultimately short for hackney "an ordinary horse" (c.1300), probably from place name Hackney, Middlesex (q.v.). Apparently nags were raised on the pastureland there in early medieval times. Extended sense of "horse for hire" (late 14c.) led naturally to "broken-down nag," and also "prostitute" (1570s) and "drudge" (1540s). Sense of "carriage for hire" (1704) led to modern slang for "taxicab." As an adjective, 1734, from the noun. Hack writer is first recorded 1826, though hackney writer is at least 50 years earlier. Hack-work is recorded from 1851.

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"tool for chopping," early 14c., from hack (v.1); cf. Danish hakke "mattock," German Hacke "pickax, hatchet, hoe." Meaning "an act of cutting" is from 1836; figurative sense of "a try, an attempt" is first attested 1898.

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"illegally enter a computer system," by 1984; apparently a back-formation from hacker. Related: Hacked; hacking. Earlier verb senses were "to make commonplace" (1745), "make common by everyday use" (1590s), "use (a horse) for ordinary riding" (1560s), all from hack (n.2).

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"to cough with a short, dry cough," 1802, perhaps from hack (v.1) on the notion of being done with difficulty, or else imitative.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper