What Does “hosed” Mean?

originally published 4-10-2008

I don’t know exactly where I first heard this term, but it was many, many, years ago. Probably in Cincinnati, Ohio. People there seem to say a lot of things which, get a second glance. Like the first time I ordered a hot dog. The young lady behind the counter, didn’t understand my request, so she said “Please?”. It took me a couple attempts and a few seconds to realize “Please” was being used instead of “excuse me?”. In any case the term “hosed” indicates things have somehow gotten themselves improperly, perhaps improbably, connected together. The best example is perhaps from engineering, or maybe auto repair. If you pull all the vacuum hoses off an auto engine and have someone who knows nothing about auto engines replace them with out guidance, your engine will most probably be “hosed” when the task is finished. This term is particularly relevent to computer programs where much of the work is making sure things are properly and efficiently linked together in the proper sequence. In short “hosed” means things are mis or dis connected. The term “hosed up” indicates the equipment, programs, situation, or whatever will have to be completely dis-assembled and re-assembled with proper direction or analysis so as to become functional once again. The term does not refer to catastrophic destruction, or disassembly beyond repair – just that someone who has a “clue” will be needed to fix things.

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