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MMD > Archives > March 1997 > 1997.03.05 > 06Prev  Next

Honky-tonk & Barrel House
By Ed Berlin

[ I asked Ed if he could help with the etymology of "honky-tonk." ]

Why don't you ever give me an easy one?  I know -- you don't need help on
the easy ones.

I don't have an answer from personal knowledge or research, so I checked
the Oxford English Dictionary (in which I've found many errors, such as
"ofay", which it traces back only to 1921).

Honky-tonk -- Feb 24, 1894, Oklahoma: "The honk-a-tonk last night was
well attended by ball-heads, bachelors and leading citizens."

Honky-tonk -- Sept 1924, Etude magazine: "These dance resorts were known
as 'Honky-Tonks' -- a name which itself suggests some of the rhythms of
jazz."  (Since Etude was a very stuffy magazine, I doubt anything I read
in it about jazz.)

Barrel-house -- 1883, _Peck's Bad Boy_: "After I had put a few things
in his brandy he concluded it was cheaper to buy it and he is now
patronizing a barrel-house."

Ed Berlin

(Message sent Wed 5 Mar 1997, 21:25:00 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Barrel, Honky-tonk, House

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