I was reading Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now. A character calls an old man, "an old hunx" during an argument. I was wondering if Trollope was writing in an accent or if hunx was an old slang word. I tried Googling it, but only found websites relating to "Hunx and His Punx." The reference can be viewed here on Project Gutenberg.

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    Slang is not a count noun. You simply cannot *an old slang. It makes no sense. It is not English. – tchrist May 9 '14 at 0:48
  • Fixed to make it "old slang word", and added link to the text (which is a 2MB HTML file, btw). It's a legit question, and "hunx" is a rather bizarre word that I'd be curious about origins and meaning. – joseph_morris May 9 '14 at 1:31

Here's the entry from OED 1:

AN image of a dictionary definition of Hunks (also hunx). Its definition is "A term of obloquy for a surly, crusty, cross-grained old person, a 'bear'; now, usually, a close-fisted, stingy man; a miser. (Generally with close, covertous, niggardly, or other uncomplimentary epithet.)" It is followed by usage citations from 1628 through 1857.

Ashley Thorndike (Shakespeare's Theatre, 1916, 33) states that one of the favorite performers at the Bear Garden in Shakespeare's day was a blind bear named Old Hunks; he does not give a source, but the pre-Civil War quotations suggest allusions to the poor beast.

  • Aaah, can't beat OED! – MJ6 May 9 '14 at 2:09

There is a reference to the word in Folk-Etymology: A Dictionary of Verbal Corruptions Or Words Perverted in Form Or Meaning, by False Derivation Or Mistaken Analogy, an 1882 book by Reverend A. Smythe Palmer.

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And in Specimens of English Dialect (Skeat & Elworthy, 1900): enter image description here

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