Do you cahoot?

When looking through one of my dictionaries today I came across the word cahoot, which I’ve only seen before in the form cahoots, as in the expression ‘in cahoots with’, i.e. to be in partnership or in league with. The dictionary entry has the s in bracketts – cahoot(s) – so it seems this words can be used in the singular as well. Have you heard it used like that, or do you use it like that?

According to the OED, cahoot can also be used as a verb meaning ‘to act in partnership’. The following example is given, ‘They all agree to cahoot with their claims against Nicaragua and Costa Rica.’, which dates from 1857, so I suspect this might not be a contemporary use of the word, though I may be wrong.

The OED also states that cahoot is ‘Used in the South and West [of the USA] to denote a company, or partnership’, usually in the plural.

Cahoot either comes from the French cahute (cabin; poor hut), or from cohorte, from the Latin cohort (court, enclosure, company of soldiers).

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases.

3 Responses to Do you cahoot?

  1. JoeInAtlanta says:

    For what it’s worth, I have lived in the South [of the USA] all my life, and my mother’s side of the family goes back here for at least seven generations. I can’t recall having ever heard the word cahoot, in the singular. I’m not saying the OED is wrong, but usage of the singular is — at the least — extremely uncommon in the South. Or perhaps it is limited to specific subpopulations (my heritage is mainly Appalachian and Piedmont).

  2. Dan, ad nauseam says:

    I suspect that cahoot as a verb is an obsolete usage. I live in Oregon, and even the plural noun usage is uncommon.

  3. Petréa Mitchell says:

    All the cahoots I’ve ever encountered have been plural.

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