Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for April 6, 2021 is:

hoosegow • HOOSS-gow  • noun

US, informal + humorous : jail


“Lee Young-ae stars as a woman released from prison after serving time for a murder she didn’t commit; no sooner is she out of the hoosegow than she begins her quest to hunt down the real murderers.” — G. Allen Johnson, The San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Oct. 2020

“Even in beach communities, ‘No shoes? No shirt? Then no service’ rules are common. Many restaurants and other establishments have even stricter requirements. More basic than that, if you go out in public, you have to wear clothes. No clothes? Hello hoosegow.” — Wayne Dickson, letter in The News-Journal (Daytona Beach, Florida), 17 June 2020

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 judicare—a combination of jus, “right, law,” and dicere,”to decide, say.” When English speakers of the American West borrowed juzgado, 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.

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