Friday, June 16, 2017

Word of the night: owl-hoot

The Oxford English Dictionary word of the day is owl-hoot. The word means “the hooting sound made by an owl; a sound imitating or resembling this.”

A later meaning, “esp. in the language of Wild West fiction, etc.”: ”a fugitive, an outlaw. Hence: a worthless or contemptible person.” That’s an owlhoot, without the hyphen. Cowboys got no time for hyphens.

But the earliest meaning of owl-hoot, now archaic and rare: “dusk, nightfall.”

It is 8:55 p.m.: owl-hoot.

comments: 2

Chris said...

"Owl-hoot" meaning nightfall sounds like a leftover Norse or Anglo-Saxon kenning. I've heard a good deal of barred owl hooting this year, but in the daytime only (because I don't go to the owl-haunts after dark).

Michael Leddy said...

We used to have a resident owl. But lately it’s nothing but tree frogs. The children of the night, what music they make!