Monday, May 28, 2012


This term has two uses today. Hootenanny can refer to items that people forget the name of, in the same way that we use the terms thingamajig or whatchamacallit. The second way that this term is used is in reference to a party or, in particular, a folk-music party.

It was a little difficult trying to find the origin of this term, but one possible origin comes from the 1920/30s. A political party in Seattle held monthly music fundraisers for their organization that were called hootenannies. However, it is likely that the term was used before the 1920s in smaller regional areas to refer to jazz and folk music gatherings.

In 1963, ABC aired a musical variety TV show called hootenanny that featured popular folk music acts. The show only lasted a year before being cancelled. It appears that you can buy those long lost episodes, check out the video.

Today there are a number of different folk music festivals in North America that are called hootenannies. Despite the abundance of folk music festivals, I think I’ll continue to use the word hootenanny to describe items that I can’t remember.

Thank you Amanda for suggesting this phrase.

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