Posted by: episystechpubs | December 10, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Hash House a Go Go

Dear Editrix,

Here’s a sentence that made me consider the word hash: Let’s have a meeting to quickly hash this out. I right-clicked to check Microsoft® Word’s thesaurus for a synonym for the verb hash, and got these answers: confuse, muddle, mess, botch, hodgepodge, and jumble. This seems to indicate that hashing means to make something worse. Isn’t this odd?



Dear Curious,

What an interesting finding! I am also curious, so I looked into the different definitions and the etymology. There is a lot of information, so I’m going to concentrate on hash as a verb and noun, but not the word hash as the shortened form of the drug hashish.

Hash (noun)


1. a dish of diced or chopped meat and often vegetables, as of leftover corned beef or veal and potatoes, sautéed in a frying pan or of meat, potatoes, and carrots cooked together in gravy.

2. a mess, jumble, or muddle:
a hash of unorganized facts and figures.

3. a reworking of old and familiar material:
This essay is a hash of several earlier and better works.

4. Computers. Garbage. [KC – This is pretty vague for a dictionary definition.]

5. Radio and Television Slang. Electrical noise on a radio or snow in a television picture caused by interfering outside sources that generate sparking.

From Merriam-Webster:

1a: chopped food; specifically: a dish usually consisting of leftover meat chopped into small pieces, mixed with potatoes, and browned by baking or frying

1b slang: a meal especially in a cafeteria or at a lunch counter: Food

2: a restatement of something that is already known

3: mixture, jumble, hodgepodge: such as

a: a confused muddle

b: an undesired signal or combination of signals in a radio, radar, or television receiver due to set noise, radio noise, interference, or other cause

c: a medley of miscellaneous steps and figures in square dancing

4 chiefly Scottish: a careless or stupid person of slovenly speech or habits: worthless fellow

5: pound sign (#)

Hash (verb, verb phrases, and idioms)


1. to chop into small pieces; make into hash; mince.

2. to muddle or mess up:
We thought we knew our parts, but when the play began we hashed the whole thing.

3. to discuss or review (something) thoroughly (often followed by out):
They hashed out every aspect of the issue.

4. hash over, to bring up again for consideration; discuss, especially in review:
At the class reunion they hashed over their college days.

5. make a hash of, to spoil or botch:
The new writer made a hash of his first assignment.

Hash (etymology of verb)

From Online Etymology Dictionary:

1650s, “to hack, chop into small pieces,” from French hacher “chop up” (14c.), from Old French hache “ax” (see hatchet). Hash browns (1926) is short for hashed browned potatoes (1886), with the –ed omitted, as in mash potatoes. The hash marks on a football field were so called by 1954, from their similarity to hash marks, armed forces slang for “service stripes on the sleeve of a military uniform” (1909), which supposedly were called that because they mark the number of years one has had free food (that is, hash) from the Army; but perhaps there is a connection with the noun form of hatch.

I hope this helps!



Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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