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What’s a hack?

Many of us, when we hear the word “hack,” think of someone breaking into our computer system, i.e., a hacker. Or, if you’re from New York City, you might think of a taxi cab driver, sometimes called a hack (short for an old English “hackney cab”).

But I’ve noticed that the word hack is being used more and more, and it’s not about computers or taxis.

So of course I checked out the Urban Dictionary for some “answers.”

Urban Dictionary’s top definition for “hack” is:

A person who is a professional at doing some sort of service, but does crappy work.
“Man, that tattoo shop is full of hacks.” 

Another definition is:

A political appointed flunky who either doesn’t want to work or who is so stupid they can’t work.
“That new Assistant Commissioner Martha appointed is a real hack.”

But the definition I was looking for is this one:

A clever solution to a tricky problem.
“To hack is to modify or change something in an extraordinary way.”

In the cooking world, we are all looking for shortcuts or cooking tips. When I asked some of my foodie friends at work for their favorite hack resources, they were quick to share their faves.

Want some kitchen hacks to save time? has 73 kitchen hacks. My favorite on this list is number 15, for peeling bananas upside down. I wrote a blog about that a few years ago.


Want some recipe hacks to make you look like a genius home chef? Check out these cooking tips from Food & Wine Test Kitchen whiz Justin Chapple. He has many YouTube videos with some awesome recipe ideas.

Of course hacks aren’t just about cooking. It can be any little tip or trick to make life easier. I like the idea of taking a photo of someone’s business card in case I lose it.


It’s interesting how the definition of a word can change over time. Another example is “sick,” as in the slang phrase, “That’s sick.” I remember the first time one of my daughters said “that’s sick” to me. And it turned out to be a compliment. Yes, folks, when someone says “that’s sick,” it’s a good thing. As in, “That new restaurant I went to last night is sick.”

Times, they are a changin’.


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