Photo by Ilya Pavlov via Unsplash

Once a week I get an email with a title like, “Six Great Hacks to Organize Your Kitchen!”  I’m embarrassed to say that I get drawn in nearly every time by the word “hack” and open the email.  But what on earth does a word usually defined as breaking into a computer have to do with how to store frying pans?  The answer, I believe, is nothing.  

My original understanding was that a hack was person who was mediocre at her/his job but somehow managed to hold on to it anyway.  Ex:  “Ignore him.  He’s just a political hack.”  I nosed around the internet to see what has changed and discovered that Merriam Webster lists dozens of meanings for HACK, including nouns, verbs and adjectives.  

I realize that most people don’t brood about stuff like this.  As a writer, I do. I get so worked up about words that my spouse says that if there is ever an emergency announcement like, “Tornado!  People should go to their basement,” I would stick around upstairs until I’d clarified that the proper word is “basements” because the subject is more than one neighbor’s  basement.  It’s kind of like a grammatical OCD.

What I have learned from researching “hack” is that the ones that inevitably draw me in are called “life hacks.”  Just for fun, I’ll close with an inane example (eye roll, please):

  1. We bet at least once in your life you have struggled to find the end of the tape.  This hack will stop this agony.  Take a hairpin or a paper clip and fix it on the end of the tape.  Now your life has become a little bit easier.




About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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