There are several meanings for the word hack but in the sense of a hack writer or anyone hired to do routine work, it is an abbreviation of hackneyed. Hackneyed itself means trite, common or unoriginal, dates from the mid-18th century and is the adjective derived from hackney, a word that dates back to c.1300 meaning a nag or average horse. This meaning is thought to originate from the place name Hackney in Middlesex. The Old English or Anglo-Saxon name for the village of Hackney was Hacan Ieg, meaning Haca’s Isle, which was once pastoral land where horses were raised for the London markets. In the late 14th century, hackneys became horses for hire. Then hackney carriages became horse drawn transport for hire in the early 18th century and the word hackney eventually took on the meaning of a broken-down horse before evolving into the wider meaning of hackneyed meaning anything trite or sub-standard. Hack, as in ‘can’t hack it’ i.e. unable to do the work, is relatively recent, making its appearance in American English in the 1950s. Hack meaning to gain unauthorised access to computer programmes stems from working like a hack (writer) at computer software and came into use in the 1970s. More recently, to hack, meaning to gain illegal entry into computer systems dates from about 1984. A hacking cough, which is a dry, rasping cough, dates from the early 19th century and derives from the other sense of hack as in hewing or chopping wood. This sense of hack is probably imitative of the sound of chopping wood and dates from the mid-1400s.