February 13, 2008
Lo, that most glorious of Holy Days is soon to be upon us: the Feast Day of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius! As there was no Saint Valentine (at least not any one St. Valentine so as to have his own day), Yesterday’s Salad has decided to do the right and honorable thing and to to celebrate the official Catholic Feast Day of the 14th, the Feast of Cyril and Methodius, the patron saints of Slavic peoples everywhere and inventors of the Cyrilic alphabet. I guess when it comes down to it, we at the Salad are just far more pragmatic than the Saudis who, in light of the news that Valentines day was a shame, decided to declare a WAR ON VALENTINE’S (something like our WAR ON CHRISTMAS?) and banned red flowers from local flower-shops.
So because these saints were such great linguists, I present a short word of the day, what could be called (if one were inclined to turn YS into a children’s book), The Case of the Saladeer and the black hat. For this really is a mystery.
The OED records two separate entries for “black hat,” one a sub-entry of “black” and the other a sub-entry of “hat,” naturally. Here is the entry under hat:
black hat (Australian slang): a newly-arrived immigrant.
and here is the entry under “black”:
black hat n. colloq. (orig. U.S.) (a) a villain or criminal, esp. one in a film or other work of fiction; a ‘bad guy’; (b) Computing slang a person who engages in illegal or malicious hacking, creates or distributes computer viruses, etc.
While the second definition is well attested, I can’t seem to find that much about the first. I did find this snazzy google book Austral English: A Dictionary of Australasian Words, Phrases, and Usages, which, I guess, attests to the fact that the OED isn’t lying to us.
With so many different meanings, at the very least, “black hat” deserves its own entry.