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Origin of hackneyed

First recorded in 1740–50; hackney + -ed2
Related formsnon·hack·neyed, adjectiveun·hack·neyed, adjective

Synonyms for hackneyed

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overdone, overused.

Synonym study


noun, plural hack·neys.
  1. Also called hackney coach. a carriage or coach for hire; cab.
  2. a trotting horse used for drawing a light carriage or the like.
  3. a horse used for ordinary riding or driving.
  4. (initial capital letter) one of an English breed of horses having a high-stepping gait.
  1. let out, employed, or done for hire.
verb (used with object)
  1. to make trite, common, or stale by frequent use.
  2. to use as a hackney.

Origin of hackney

1300–50; Middle English hakeney, special use of placename Hackney, Middlesex, England
Related formshack·ney·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for hackneyed


  1. (of phrases, fashions, etc) used so often as to be trite, dull, and stereotyped


  1. a compact breed of harness horse with a high-stepping trot
    1. a coach or carriage that is for hire
    2. (as modifier)a hackney carriage
  2. a popular term for hack 2 (def. 1)
  1. (tr; usually passive) to make commonplace and banal by too frequent use
Derived Formshackneyism, noun

Word Origin for hackney

C14: probably after Hackney, where horses were formerly raised; sense 4 meaning derives from the allusion to a weakened hired horse


  1. a borough of NE Greater London: formed in 1965 from the former boroughs of Shoreditch, Stoke Newington, and Hackney; nearby are Hackney Marshes, the largest recreation ground in London. Pop: 208 400 (2003 est). Area: 19 sq km (8 sq miles)
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 hackneyed

1769, "kept for hire," past participle adjective from hackney. The figurative sense of "trite, so overused as to have become uninteresting" is older, 1749, from hack (n.2) in special sense of "one who writes anything for hire."


late 12c., from Old English Hacan ieg "Haca's Isle" (or possibly "Hook Island"), the "isle" element here meaning dry land in a marsh. Now well within London, it once was pastoral and horses apparently were kept there. Hence hackney "small saddle horse let out for hire" (c.1300), with subsequent deterioration of sense (see hack (n.2)). And cf. French haquenée "ambling nag," an English loan-word.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper