Definition of hackney in English:



  • 1A horse or pony of a light breed with a high-stepping trot, used in harness.

    • ‘People in the country should get hackneys or taxis or even better, use a designated driver.’
    • ‘As the hackney rolled forth the meaning of Caroline's answer registered in Charlotte's mind.’
    • ‘You'd feel for all the other taxi drivers and hackneys, particularly those working at night.’
    • ‘Over the same period, the number of hackneys has fallen from more than 3,650 to less than 1,260.’
    • ‘He said the only problem taxi drivers had with the proposed new code was the proposal that all taxis, hackneys and limousines be fitted with a front passenger swivel seat to facilitate entry and exit for people with reduced mobility.’
    1. 1.1[usually as modifier]A horse-drawn vehicle kept for hire.
      ‘a hackney coach’
      • ‘He said 87 objections were received from private hire employees, but none from hackney drivers.’
      • ‘And three-quarters of private hire taxis and 55 per cent of hackney cabs stopped for roadside checks were discovered to have faults.’
      • ‘Private hire cabbies have united with hackney drivers as they prepare for battle over bus lanes.’
      • ‘One means was, of course, new taxation, which was imposed on salt, stamps, hackney coaches, and, especially, on land.’
      • ‘Taxi licensing is dealt with by local authorities and Ribble Valley Council currently has 26 operators, 66 private hire vehicles, 49 hackney cabs and 81 drivers on its books.’
      wagon, hackney, hansom, gig, landau, trap, caravan, car
      View synonyms


Middle English: probably from Hackney in East London, where horses were pastured. The term originally denoted an ordinary riding horse (as opposed to a war horse or draught horse), especially one available for hire: hence hackney carriage or coach, and the archaic verb hackney meaning ‘use (a horse) for ordinary riding’, later ‘make commonplace by overuse’(see hackneyed).