Sometimes I read/hear the verb "to hock" used as a synonym of "peddle/hawk", as in "The street vendor hocked his wares."

Is that correct? I always thought that "to hock" meant "to pawn". Perhaps it's a colloquial/street usage?

Edit: As coincidence would have it, I stumbled upon an infographic that uses the verb exactly like that. WARNING: it's a comparison between comedians Bill Hicks and Denis Leary, there's some mild swearing, so might be NSFW.

Also in this article as well. ("In businessese, this means that businesses will have more tools to aggressively hock their brand to Facebook users who like their product.")

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    I can't find that meaning for the word "hock" in any online dictionaries to which I have access. Where is your example sentence from? Can you provide a source? As an aside, where I grew up (US Midwest in the 60's, 70's), hock also meant to steal something. For example, you would hear, "I just hocked Larry's pencil", meaning they took it from Larry. – Kristina Lopez Feb 28 '13 at 20:13
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    @Kristina: Since "hocking" = "pawning", and pawners hawk their hocked wares, it's not hard to guess how the eggcorn might get started. – J.R. Feb 28 '13 at 22:11
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    I can totally see "hock" as a corruption of "hawk". And as a further aside, in my part of the midwest, "Hork" means to take an item from a departed worker's area for your own use before the responsible clean-up crew return it to their stockpile: "Did you hear Larry got terminated?" "Yeah, I just horked his 24-inch monitor." – Hellion Feb 28 '13 at 23:23
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    No connection with 'The Chinese restaurateur wokked his hares.' – Edwin Ashworth Feb 28 '13 at 23:54
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    when you are the one pawning something, you put your item in hock. – rosends Mar 1 '13 at 0:34

From the eggcorn database:

Like wrought » rot and naught » not, this is an eggcorn that works best for those with the cot/caught merger.

Hawk ‘to offer for sale (by calling out in the street)’ and hock ‘to pawn’, though not etymologically related, are semantically close enough to make this a relatively common eggcorn.

Note also that hawk in the sense of ‘cough up phlegm’ (as in hawk a loogie) often appears in the form of hock (see David Wilton’s Wordorigins).

So, you're right to be suspicious. Hock means to pawn, while hawk means to sell. The two homophones are sometimes mistakenly interchanged to give us the eggcorn.

  • Exactly what I was searching for. Thank you so much! :) – Reddast Mar 1 '13 at 15:33

From here:

To sell something which you hope to buy back later because you need money now.

She had to hock her wedding ring.

  • That's true, but the O.P. is asking about street vendors who are hocking [sic] their wares, not people who are hocking something at the pawn shop. (Street vendors don't hope to buy back the things they sell.) – J.R. Mar 1 '13 at 2:39

To 'hawk' your wares is to sell them, and yes that often refers to the people who yell out what they are selling in the street,they are sometimes referred to as 'hawkers'. Still, the word hawk in the form of a verb means to 'sell' or.....(yuk) spit.

To 'hock' is to pawn....yet, if u don't uphold your contract the pawn shop then holds the right to 'hawk' (sell) what you brought to them planning to just 'hock'.

Interestingly, it is not easy to find either 'hawk' or 'hock' (used as we have been discussing) in an English dictionary, although it can be found in what they call 'urban' dictionaries. What seems this odd is that it's been commonly used in English language as far back as the late 1800's.


Oxford English Dictionary defines hawk, trans. verb To carry about from place to place and offer for sale; to cry in the street.

  • 1866 J. E. T. Rogers Hist. Agric. & Prices I. xix. 457 Salt was hawked about by retail dealers.

OED also defines hock as trans. verb To pawn. No entry for alternate spelling of hawk.

  • 1904 G. H. Lorimer Old Gorgon Graham 184 You can hock your overcoat before marriage to buy violets for a girl.

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