A case of mistaken definitions?
April 17, 2009 12:27 PM   Subscribe

What the f*ck is a hobknocker? Sounds dirty but was apparently used on a kids show...

My boss's 7-year-old watches a Nickelodeon show called iCarly. They saw an episode last night (originally aired February 7th) where someone uses the word "hobknocker." Another character asks what that is, to which someone whispers the definition in his ear. The character says "ew that's gross! And illegal!"

Today my boss tells me this story and we start looking up definitions online. We mostly found gross sexual references. I'm guessing that's not the definition of hobknocker used on a kids show.

So, hive mind, any ideas? Is this a commonly used word? Is there a commonly used "clean" definition that can still be "gross" and illegal?
posted by radioamy to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

The definitions on Urban Dictionary all seem to have been created right after the show first aired. My guess? It was a nonsense phrase, then the internet stepped in with its perverted imagination.
posted by piratebowling at 12:37 PM on April 17, 2009 [6 favorites]

An old fashioned door knocker.
posted by howgenerica at 12:46 PM on April 17, 2009

I'd like to think that a hob knocker is someone who drives hobnails into the soles of boots. Without delving into the etymology of it all, that could be the clean version, twisted into a form of mutilation for unshod feet?

Otherwise, perhaps it is a term for someone who knocks up hobs?

I might be overthinking this.
posted by CancerMan at 1:07 PM on April 17, 2009

Just from the context, it's a joke based on a frakkin' made-up word. If the term was really gross and illegal, Nick wouldn't include it -- they're a big corporate kid's entertainment outfit! So, seconding piratebowling.
posted by Yogurt at 1:40 PM on April 17, 2009

Okay, and a cite for my assertion:

Original air date of iRocked the Vote: February 7, 2009.

First Entry for Hobnocker on Urban Dictionary: February 7, 2009.
posted by piratebowling at 3:20 PM on April 17, 2009

My daughter is a huge iCarly fan. I've seen the episode in question. It is specifically a made-up-word.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:27 PM on April 17, 2009

For what it's worth, the OED has no entry for "hobknocker" or "hob-knocker." (It does have an entry for "ho-bag.")
posted by Orinda at 3:38 PM on April 17, 2009

Oh, c'mon, everybody knows what a hob-knocker is...
posted by darksasami at 3:58 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Here is an intellectual meaning of this term - From the late 1800s to the Great Depression, tramps and hobos would build campfires to stay warm and cook meals. They would stir the fire up for the warmth. Thus, a “hobknocker” came to mean a hobo or tramp or one who roamed around, assuming little responsibility and just getting by."

From here
posted by Acacia at 4:50 PM on April 17, 2009

While iCarly may have made this word up Hob-knocker _way_ predates the airing of this show. My grandfather was fond of the word and he's been dead for a couple decades now. He used it with disdain as a put down the way some more conservative people would use hippie, beatnik or hipster.

On preview kind of lines up with what Acacia wrote.
posted by Mitheral at 5:44 PM on April 17, 2009

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