Saturday, March 26, 2011


I am currently in Santa Barbara at a conference with some monetary economists. Other than the latest monetary economics, here is the most important thing that I learned here. Rod Garratt (UCSB), who is also from Canada, let me in on the origin of the word "hoser." Hoser was a word that Bob and Doug McKenzie (i.e. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) frequently applied to each other. Bruce Smith asked me on more than one occasion what it meant, but I had no idea. Where I grew up in southern Ontario, no one ever used the word.

Well, as you know, Canadians like to play hockey (certainly not field hockey; I mean hockey on the ice with skates and sticks). Sometimes we do this in someone's back yard, in which case you need to flood a patch of ground with a garden hose. After playing a game, the ice is somewhat chewed up, and it helps to flood the rink again so the ice is in good shape for the next game. Apparently there is a custom (again, not where I grew up) that the losers get out the garden hose and flood the rink. Thus, the losers are "hosers."

Randy Wright did not believe this, and thought Rod was making it up. Any confirmation or disconfirmation anyone can supply would be helpful.

Here's something else I learned. As you may not know, we Canadians love our Newfies (people from Newfoundland). They have a great sense of humor and love a good joke. Here is a Newfie joke. There are two Newfies building a house. The first Newfie notices that the second Newfie keeps throwing away nails.

First Newfie: Those nails are expensive. Why do you keep throwing some away?
Second Newfie: I've noticed that about half the nails in this box have the heads on the wrong end.
First Newfie: No no. Don't throw them away. We can use them on the other side of the house.


  1. I don't know what "hoser" means but I have been told that it is bad. Long ago, I left a message for a friend of mine who works in a Canadian department. Let's call her Andrea. In the message, I called Andrea a "hoser." Apparently it means something very inappropriate because the department secretaries really let Andrea have it because of my message.

    Another possibility is that the secretaries also didn't know what it meant and simply assumed it was something bad.

  2. There is another close relative, which is not "hoser," but a derogatory term directed at women. Not sure if it is particularly endemic to Canada.

  3. I do not think the close relative is originated from Canada. Wikipedia seems to back up Professor Garratt's explanation of the word,, and also includes other origins.

  4. Any thoughts on the recent no-confidence vote and whatnot?

  5. Last anonymous,

    No. I just heard about this on the radio yesterday. If the election resulted from a no-confidence vote, the Liberals must think they can win, but I'm sure there is more to it. I'll have to talk to my sister.

  6. Second last anonymous,

    Yes, the Wikipedia also mentioned "hosehead," which was in my lexicon, and gives you the etymology.

  7. I always thought "hoser" derived from the Yiddish "chazer" (the "ch" is pronounced not as in "church" but as in "chutzpah," with a more guttural sort of "kh" sound), and referred to a person who inappropriately pushes himself to the fore, as in a group project, a discussion, etc in which he is inappropriately self-assertive. A Chazer is a pig, in Yiddish.

    On the other hand, I do not know that the term "pig" carries, in Yiddish, the same slang denotation of "greedy" --inappropriately self-assertive-- as it does in English idiom. After all, a pig is an inappropriate creature in its essence, to a speaker of Yiddish.

  8. Tony,

    Yes, "chazer" certainly seems stronger than "greedy pig," which is something that your mother might say to you - fairly chastising, but not the end of the world. And a hockey-rink hoser is really just being teased a bit for losing - we're not saying he/she has bad character.

  9. Prof W, your textbook mentions the anomalous productivity growth in the recession. Wondered if you'd seen this:

  10. Lee Ohanian and Tom Cooley are preparing an intermediate macro textbook similar to yours:

    Macroeconomics: A Neoclassical Perspective, with Thomas Cooley, W. W. Norton, forthcoming.

  11. second to last anonymous:

    Yes, I discussed related things here. See some of the comments:

    last anonymous:

    Yes, I had heard about this. Competition is healthy of course.