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n. Slang
A jail.

[Spanish juzgado, tribunal, courtroom, from past participle of juzgar, to judge, from Latin iūdicāre, from iūdex, iūdic-, judge; see judge.]
Our Living Language Hoosegow is an old slang synonym for jail with a flavor of the American West: They threw him in the hoosegow for being drunk and disorderly. The term was born in the lively mixture of Spanish and English spoken in the western part of the United States—it comes from the Spanish juzgado, "court of justice, tribunal." In many varieties of Spanish, the ending -ado is usually pronounced as -ao in everyday speech, with no d at all or only a very lightly articulated one. The spelling hoosegow thus is a pretty good representation of the American Spanish pronunciation of the word juzgado as it might sound to the ears of an English-speaking American, even though hoosegow looks nothing like the actual written form juzgado. The first known occurrence of the word hoosegow dates from 1909, and the word was especially associated with army slang in its early history. Spanish juzgado, "court of justice," comes from the verb juzgar, "to judge," and juzgar itself comes from the Latin verb iūdicāre. On the way from Latin to Old French, iūdicāre became the Old French verb juger, "to judge," which was borrowed into Middle English as jugen. Jugen eventually developed into the Modern English verb judge. Hoosegow and judge are thus distant linguistic cousins.


(ˈhuːsɡaʊ) or


US a slang word for jail
[C20: from Mexican Spanish jusgado prison, from Spanish: court of justice, from juzgar to judge, from Latin judicāre, from judex a judge; compare jug]


or hoos•gow

(ˈhus gaʊ)

n. Slang.
a jail.
[1860–65, Amer.; < Mexican Spanish juzgado jail, Sp: court of justice, orig. past participle of juzgar to judge]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.hoosegow - slang for a jail
gaol, jail, jailhouse, pokey, poky, slammer, clink - a correctional institution used to detain persons who are in the lawful custody of the government (either accused persons awaiting trial or convicted persons serving a sentence)


Slang. A place for the confinement of persons in lawful detention:
Informal: lockup, pen.
Chiefly Regional: calaboose.


n (dated US sl: = jail) → Knast m (inf)
References in periodicals archive ?
And then he's sentenced to whatever--10 days extra work and drill or 30 days in the military hoosegow [jail], which was down in Seoul.
he doesn't like spends a few days in the hoosegow in March after a Rockingham County judge found him in contempt of court during a divorce proceeding.
They called him a Communist and a menace to the Existing Relationship Between Black and White in the South Sheriff and judge debated whether to open the hoosegow and tell reporters the mob stormed the jail or let the state lynch him on the gallows.
Unhappily for the two ladies, the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America stood between their wish to punish Fruscione and the actual trundling him off to the hoosegow.
This year will be his 26th Thanksgiving as the head hoosegow chef.
That approach may serve well the needs of officials tasked with filling in the blanks of a regulatory program, but it ill serves the interests of regulated parties, who need clearly understandable rules defining criminal liability in order to avoid winding up in the hoosegow.
In Arkansas nine men were dragged out of the hoosegow and, in cowboy lingo, were strung up.
He's going to the hoosegow, he's going to the hoosegow" (Aftab 359).
The West: a place of outlaws, sheriffs, do-gooders, cattle rustlers, dude ranches, cowboys, Indians, tumbleweeds, masked vigilantes, the hoosegow, and a slew of other things.
How about the worry that the NHL is owned and controlled by scam artists who keep getting hauled off to the hoosegow in handcuffs (Bruce McNall, Peter Pocklington, et al.
He told me that he was in the hoosegow because he had, "Twis'ed a man's head off.