Mighty Red Pen

July 27, 2009

HOE down

Filed under: Word wars — mighty red pen @ 7:53 pm
Tags: , ,

A court in Nevada ruled in favor of a man who wanted a license plate that said ‘HOE’ for his Chevy Tahoe (he was told ‘TAHOE’ was not available).  The Nevada DMV tried to block the license plate on the grounds that hoe is slang for prostitute.

I always thought that spelling was ho and it was slang for whore, but no one in Nevada consulted MRP. Their loss.

In an amusing development, Urban Dictionary was cited as a source for the definition of hoe/ho by the DMV. This, of course, led to a debate of the merits of Urban Dictionary. The Nevada court was having none of that. According to an article:

The high court said the DMV based its opposition to William Junge’s plate on definitions found in the Web-based Urban Dictionary, which includes user contributions. Justices ruled that the contributed definitions “do not always reflect generally accepted definitions for words.”

. . .

The high court said Urban Dictionary “allows, if not encourages, users to invent new words or attribute new, not generally accepted meanings to existing words.”

But “a reasonable mind would not accept the Urban Dictionary entries alone as adequate to support a conclusion that the word ‘HOE’ is offensive or inappropriate,” the justices wrote.

Said 62-year-old Junge of the DMV’s efforts to put the kibosh on his tribute to his SUV: “It’s nonsense. . . .That was their interpretation. Shame on them.”

I checked out the Urban Dictionary situation on hoe just to see what the DMV was citing as back-up and was interested to find this entry (among the dozens of others):

4. Misspelling of ‘ho’ (short for ‘whore’), confused with a tool for gardening.
Guy #1: Look she’s a hoe!
Guy #2: No dude, she’s a ho.
For comparison’s sake, here is Urban Dictionary on ho.

My own informal research finds the word ho in Merriam Webster, just as I thought:  slang: whore and hoe: 1: any of various implements for tilling, mixing, or raking ; especially : an implement with a thin flat blade on a long handle used especially for cultivating, weeding, or loosening the earth around plants 2: backhoe. Here is a visual guide, opinions on ho versus hoe welcome.

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