or hoos·gow

[ hoos-gou ]
/ ˈhus gaʊ /

noun Slang.

a jail.

Origin of hoosegow

1860–65, Americanism; < Mexican Spanish jusgado jail (Spanish: court of justice, orig. past participle of juzgar to judge) < Latin jūdicātum, equivalent to jūdic- (stem of jūdex) judge + -ātum -ate1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hoosegow

  • It would infuriate the Judge to sentence those buzzards to the hoosegow for life.

    David Lannarck, Midget|George S. Harney
  • The next thing I heard, two men we've been keeping an eye on were in the hoosegow, one with a slug in his shoulder.

    The Wailing Octopus|Harold Leland Goodwin
  • It's a long walk down to the hoosegow and I don't want to take you there.

    Young People's Pride|Stephen Vincent Benet
  • "The boss is in the hoosegow," answered Pete, his voice tragic.

    Good References|E. J. Rath

British Dictionary definitions for hoosegow



/ (ˈhuːsɡaʊ) /


US a slang word for jail

Word Origin for hoosegow

C20: from Mexican Spanish jusgado prison, from Spanish: court of justice, from juzgar to judge, from Latin judicāre, from judex a judge; compare jug
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 hoosegow



"jail," 1911, western U.S., probably from mispronunciation of Mexican Spanish juzgao "tribunal, court," from juzgar "to judge," used as a noun, from Latin judicare "to judge," which is related to judicem (see judge (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper