hack·​ney | \ ˈhak-nē How to pronounce hackney (audio) \
plural hackneys

Definition of hackney

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a horse suitable for ordinary riding or driving
b : a trotting horse used chiefly for driving
c often capitalized : any of an English breed of rather compact usually chestnut, bay, or brown high-stepping horses
2 : a carriage or automobile kept for hire
3 obsolete : one that works for hire



Definition of hackney (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : kept for public hire hackney cabs
2 : hackneyed
3 archaic : done or suitable for doing by a drudge


hackneyed; hackneying

Definition of hackney (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to make common or frequent use of
b : to make trite, vulgar, or commonplace
2 archaic : to make sophisticated or jaded

Illustration of hackney

Illustration of hackney


hackney 1c

In the meaning defined above

Does hackney come from the name of an English town?

Hackney entered the English language in the 14th century as a noun. Some think perhaps it came from "Hakeneye" (now "Hackney"), the name of a town (now a borough) in England. Others dispute this explanation, pointing to similar forms in other European languages. The noun "hackney," in any case, refers to a horse suitable for ordinary riding or driving-as opposed to one used as a draft animal or a war charger. When "hackney" was first used as a verb in the late 16th century, it often meant "to make common or frequent use of." Later, it meant "to make trite, vulgar, or commonplace." The adjective "hackneyed" began to be used in the 18th century and now is a common synonym for "trite."

Examples of hackney in a Sentence

Adjective she quickly learned to ignore her children's hackney complaints like “It isn't fair” and “Why me?” Verb advertisers have hackneyed the word “revolutionary” so much that it now just means that a product is new
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Feinberg is still driving under the same hackney carriage medallion that he was issued in 1975, according to police. Danny Mcdonald, BostonGlobe.com, 10 July 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Director Zach Braff runs in the opposite direction of these stereotypes and all other things hackneyed, crafting an enjoyable time at the movies. Peter Hartlaub, Orange County Register, 6 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hackney.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hackney


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hackney


Middle English hakeney, hakenay "a small saddle horse, especially one for hire," probably from hackney, originally a parish and village, where nearby meadows may have been used to pasture horses


Middle English hakenay, from attributive use of hakeney hackney entry 1


derivative of hackney entry 1

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The first known use of hackney was in the 13th century

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Cite this Entry

“Hackney.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hackney. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for hackney


hack·​ney | \ ˈhak-nē How to pronounce hackney (audio) \
plural hackneys

Kids Definition of hackney

: a horse for ordinary riding or driving

Hackney geographical name

Hack·​ney | \ ˈhak-nē How to pronounce Hackney (audio) \

Definition of Hackney

borough of northern Greater London, England population 250,000

More from Merriam-Webster on hackney

Nglish: Translation of hackney for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hackney for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hackney


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