In the version of "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" available on gutenberg.org here, this appears:

"she told him at last that if he didn't quit using around there"

Is the use of the word "using" here a mistake, or was that the actual original word used there?

If the latter, what does it mean? Is it an archaic term for "messing about" or rural Missouri slang for something else, or what?

  • 1
    It looks like she uses "using" to mean "drinking" -- this is Huck Finn's father being discussed, and he was a no-good drunk most of the time. – Hot Licks Dec 22 '18 at 1:54
  • Whether there is a mistake in the online version of the book is something that can be easily ascertained by consulting a printed copy. Just about every library in the English-speaking world has it. – jsw29 Dec 22 '18 at 17:11
  • @jsw29: True, but is this forum the source of last resort? – B. Clay Shannon Dec 23 '18 at 14:18

Apparently it's still a common term, and I am also surprised that it was used at that time.

It's perfectly in context since it refers to "pap", the (ab)user of alcohol.

"Every time he got money he got drunk; and every time he got drunk he raised Cain around town; and every time he raised Cain he got jailed. He was just suited — this kind of thing was right in his line.

He got to hanging around the widow’s too much and so she told him at last that if he didn’t quit using around there she would make trouble for him. Well, wasn't he mad?"

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