She's So Huskanoying, Right?

The huskanaw was a rite of passage in which Algonquian-speaking Virginia Indian boys became men. The Bachelor is a television show on which otherwise beautiful women become “vulnerable” while “opening up” on their “journeys” to find “true love” with a guy who (truly) “looks like someone boiled all the flavor out of Jason Schwartzman.”
What do these two things have in common?
According to the anthropologist William R. Gerard, writing in 1907—and I just discovered this yesterday—the word “huskanaw” (also “huskanoy”) gained currency in colonial Virginia as a means of suggesting that someone looked, well, a little out of it. That’s because the Indian boys undergoing the ritual were, reportedly, drugged with a concoction made of jimsonweed. (Confirmed by OED.)
Thomas Jefferson even used it in a sentence. In a letter to James Madison, dated July 31, 1788, TJ complained that a certain French minister, although a good enough guy, was “so much out of his element that he has the air of one huskanoyed.”
Which brings us to the recently engaged Courtney of The Bachelor. Per the photograph above, which is my favorite, I think she fits the definition of one huskanoyed. Don’t you?
PS: Not that I watch The Bachelor.
IMAGES: Top: Huskanaw cage, 1705 (Documenting the American South); bottom: Courtney; Jefferson (


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Sponsors  |  View all