Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
July 7th, 2015
Episode 249 of 900 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 07, 2015 is: hoosegow \HOOSS-gow\ noun : jail Examples: The perpetrator was sentenced to three months in the hoosegow. "Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds has issued a blunt warning to pet owners: treat your dogs and cats humanely or you might wind up in the hoosegow." Bill Hendrick, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 16, 2014 Did you know? In Spanish, juzgado means "panel of judges, courtroom." The word is based on the Spanish past participle of juzgar, meaning "to judge," which itself was influenced by Latin judicarea combination of jus, "right, law," and dicere, "to decide, say." When English speakers of the American West borrowed juzgado in the early 1900s, they recorded it the way they heard it: hoosegow. They also associated the word specifically with the jail that was usually in the same building as a courthouse. Today, hoosegow has become slang for any place of confinement for lawbreakers.