Have you ever thought that you can’t hack the job? Have you heard of victims being hacked away by criminals? The word hack has a different meaning based on the context it is being used in. ‘Can’t hack it,’ means that a person is unable to complete the job/work. On the contrary, ‘hack away someone/something’ means to chop off. We hear people use ‘hack’ in technology, in DIY talks and even in news channels.
This word was first used in the early 1200 as a verb. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it was used as a verb at that time and was used to define things that are cut or chopped in an irregular fashion (Oxford Dictionary)q. With time, it became used as a noun, meaning a person who does undistinguished work. It can be a writer who produces commercial writing, or a person who takes objectionable jobs in return for money, as in hackney. (Ben)
In the nineteenth century, MIT was the first place where ‘hack’ was used with machines and technology. Initially, it was used in a situation when an employee worked his way around to a tech problem in a more creative way than what was written in the outline. Slowly, this term was used for computer fanatics only who somehow found a way around the system. The Jargon File lists up to eight different definitions of a hacker that range from being positive to negative. The first definition includes the people who learn and enjoy details of programming and want to learn ways to stretch their capabilities. While another definition states that a hacker is a person that intrudes into an unauthorized system and pokes around for information. In this context, hackers are usually ‘crackers.’ If addressed to Linux programmers, hack is a positive term. (Ben)
‘To hack’ is often times used in a sense to combine in a haphazard manner yet to make it functional. If used as a noun, to hack means to find a temporary solution or a quick fix. However, ‘hacker’ is not used in the same sense as ‘to hack.’ In a way, all the definitions of ‘hack’ are similar. ‘Hack’ means to come up with clever solutions. It is to remove the barriers in some way to a person’s benefit. To hack may be application of inventiveness, even if it results in illegal authorization, or a clumsy practical fix, or even a fashionable non clumsy solution. (Stackexchange)
In conclusion, ‘hack’ is now being used around the world only in its negative meaning. Most people do not know in what another sense it may be used. They only consider using ‘hack’ to describe an illegal break in, a security threat or any theft of any computer data. However, due to the fact that the meaning of ‘hack’ changes with respect to the public, a fixed meaning cannot be attached to this word. I feel that the word is not positive or negative, but the context makes it seem that way. As with any verbal communication, it is important to know your audience before applying the word ‘hack’ in the conversation.
Ben, Yagoda. "A Short History of Hack." The New Yorker. N.p., 7 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. <http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2014/03/a-short-history-of-hack.html>.
Oxford Dictionary. "Synonyms of hack in English." Oxford Dictionaries (Thesaurus of English). N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english-thesaurus/hack>.
Stackexchange. "Is the term ‘hack’ more positive or more negative?." English Language & Usage. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. <http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/3229/is-the-term-hack-more-positive-or-more-negative>.