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There were plenty of pieces of upper-body garments/clothing, which had a hood, before the 'hoodie'.

Was it simply that no one had thought of the name up until then? Or was there something different/special about the 'hoodie'?

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The OED says "A hooded sweatshirt, fleece, or other garment.", and therein lies the answer, I think.

A hoodie is a "hooded sweatshirt" or "hooded fleece", (in contradistinction to the original kind of each, which had no hood) and the abbreviation is natural.

As far as I know "hooded coat" or "hooded raincoat" have never become established phrases, and so have not become "hoodies". This may be because on an outer garment (especially a raincoat) a hood is unremarkable, whereas on a sweatshirt it is much more distinctive; but that bit is speculation.

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I also believe that hoodie also originated in the inner city or perhaps surfing/snowboarding subcultures. So maybe hoodie, meaning perhaps "from the [neighbor]hood" was part of the naming calculus. (At one time, homey was used in the inner city to refer to a friend from the neighborhood.) – Wayne May 18 '11 at 17:05
That it got its own name is a testament both to its popularity and, I'd say, the fact that most of the time the hood is purely decorative, making it more of a fashion feature than hoods on coats. – Matthew Frederick May 18 '11 at 17:56

Hoodie is simply a diminutive of hooded sweatshirt.

-ie and -y are very common diminutive suffixes in English, used for just about any word to convey "a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object or quality named, encapsulation, intimacy, or endearment." (Wikipedia)

Other common examples include:

  • Movies for motion picture
  • Booties for ankle-length boots or shoes worn by infants
  • Panties for female unmentionables (which have now been mentioned)
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It seems to me that the word came into use with the increased popularity of the garment itself: when the "hooded sweatshirt" became ubiquitous, people could not be bothered to use the full name.

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