September 19, 2013

Case File #013.09.19: CAHOOTS

When you're in cahoots with somebody, it generally means that you're colluding or conspiring together for some secret and often nefarious purpose. And the coining of the word cahoots must have been the result of such a conspiracy, because even though English speakers have been using the noun since the early nineteenth century, nobody really knows who coined it or how it originated. Some linguists and etymologists believe the word may have been derived from the Latin cohors, which literally meant “enclosure for animals or soldiers” yet was often used figuratively to mean “enclosed group” or “infantry troop.” But others think it more likely that cahoots was derived from the French cahute, meaning “hut” or “cabin,” and was thus intended to suggest the closed-in, out-of-the-way places in which conspirators often do their caballing and conniving.

©2013 Michael R. Gates

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