HOOKER. A resident of the Hook, i.e. a strumpet, a sailor's trull. So called from the number of houses of ill-fame frequented by sailors at the Hook (i.e. Corlear's Hook) in the city of New York. [John Russell Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1859]Perhaps related to hooker "thief, pickpocket" (1560s), but most likely a reference to prostitutes hooking or snaring clients. Hook in the figurative sense of "that by which anyone is attracted or caught" is recorded from early 15c.; and hook (v.) in the figurative sense of "catch hold of and draw in" is attested from 1570s; in reference to "fishing" for a husband or a wife, it was in common use from c. 1800. All of which makes the modern sense seem a natural step. Compare French accrocheuse, raccrocheuse, common slang term for "street-walker, prostitute," literally "hooker" of men.
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