Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Nov 9 2012   1:17PM GMT

Hawk or hock?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
An increasing number of lawyers are ________ compliance products.

a. hocking
b. hawking

Answer: b.

Explanation:

To hawk is to sell or attempt to sell something, especially to do so in a loud and intrusive manner. To hock is to pawn. So there is some  relationship between the words but they do not mean the same thing. Vendors hawk their products, for example. If they’re hocking them, on the other hand, that’s a bad sign. Avoid buying their stock.

Similarly, if lawyers were hocking compliance products it would mean they were taking them to the pawn shop to see what they could get for them. Also not a good sign — avoid hiring those lawyers.

***

Grammarist explains that hawker came before hawk:

“In the selling-related sense, hawk is a backformation from hawker, an Anglicization of an old German word.

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Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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