Definition of hackney in English:



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

    • ‘You'd feel for all the other taxi drivers and hackneys, particularly those working at night.’
    • ‘As the hackney rolled forth the meaning of Caroline's answer registered in Charlotte's mind.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘People in the country should get hackneys or taxis or even better, use a designated driver.’
    • ‘Over the same period, the number of hackneys has fallen from more than 3,650 to less than 1,260.’
    1. 1.1[usually as modifier]A horse-drawn vehicle kept for hire.
      ‘a hackney coach’
      • ‘One means was, of course, new taxation, which was imposed on salt, stamps, hackney coaches, and, especially, on land.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Private hire cabbies have united with hackney drivers as they prepare for battle over bus lanes.’
      wagon, hackney, hansom, gig, landau, trap, caravan, car
      View synonyms


Middle English: probably from Hackney in East London, England, where horses were pastured. The term originally denoted an ordinary riding horse (as opposed to a warhorse or draft 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).