Hoosegow & Pokey

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4 comments on this post.
  1. Bruce A. Hughes:

    “Pokey”,as told to me when younger, refers to having to sit on slats that were either shaved to a point, or left flat, depending on your crime, with your feet protruding through the leg openings of a clamped shut yoke. The villagers would come by and either whack your feet or laugh at you. If your crime was sever enough, you would have to place you hands and head through another type of restraint and either stand on a flat or shaved to a point slat for a given time. This lead to numerous terms. ” Laughing stock”; having some one “watch your back” to keep from having untold menaces done there; and of course “Joe’s in the “Pokey today”, because your feet or head were poking through.

  2. crsimon:

    So “slowpoke” just reinforces the meaning of poky. I wonder what “poke” refers to in “cowpoke.” The proverbial poke in “a pig in a poke” refers to a closed sack, which certainly fits with “cramped” and “confined.” Perhaps cowpokes, since they herded cattle, making sure they were not lost or stolen, and brought them in from the range to market, kept them confined– as in the pokey.

  3. Micki:

    I grew up in the Detroit area and “hoosegow” is a fond memory from my rumrunner grandfather’s stash of strange old words. Fortunately, he did not wind up in the slammer, big house … up the river ….

  4. jack schrader:

    All of those suggestions for references to the Pokey may certainly explain the term to some but you left out the most obvious which is a place for many to keep their back to the wall,certainly a lot more simple then those hard to come by observations!!

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