Definition of hackney in US 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.’
    • ‘Over the same period, the number of hackneys has fallen from more than 3,650 to less than 1,260.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1usually 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.’
      • ‘One means was, of course, new taxation, which was imposed on salt, stamps, hackney coaches, and, especially, on land.’
      • ‘Private hire cabbies have united with hackney drivers as they prepare for battle over bus lanes.’
      • ‘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.’
      wagon, 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 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).