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):
- 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.
HAVE A GOOD WEEK!