Printable Version
Pronunciation: hæs-êl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Harassment, bother, nuisance, annoying complication, irritating trouble. 2. Argument, angry dispute, quarrel, wrangling.

Notes: Here is an old word revived in the 1960's to enjoy its heyday. It may be used as a verb meaning "to cause either of the noun's two senses". Otherwise, it is a lexical orphan.

In Play: A hassle is an annoying complication: "It was too much of a hassle to get Anita Job to do the work, so they just fired her." Hippies of the 60s made it a common everyday term: "Homer failed to convince the judge that filling out tax forms was too big a hassle to carry out successfully."

Word History: The origin of today's Good Word is still a matter of dispute. Some think it's a blend of harass + hustle. Others think it drifted from a Southern dialectal use of hassle "to pant from exertion, like dogs". Still others think it's of imitative origin or akin to British dialectal hassle "to hack at, saw away". This word results from the verbal use of the noun hatchel, an old hand tool for combing out fibers like flax and hemp that by 1800 had begun to be used in British dialects as a verb in the sense of "annoy, pester". None of these ideas are theories based on evidence; they are just speculation. (Today we need to split our gratitude between M. Henri Day of Sweden, a Grand Panjandrum back in 2005, and, more recently, Brian Johnson of Tokyo, for insisting we do today's exceptionally Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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