Date: Sun, 16 Nov 1997 07:08:55 -0500

From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: Origin of "How"

Tom Dalzell is writing a book on "sin words," and I owe him words on

drinking, gambling, drugs, horseracing, sex, and more.

The following term is not in the RHHDAS H-O and can be considered with

"Here's Looking at You," which I posted about a month ago. This is from the

Long Branch (NJ) Record, 19 January 1900, pg. 11, col. 4:


Why It Came to be Used in Connection with Drinking.

They were all sitting around a table in the Gibson House cafe, Farny and

a few other genial spirits, says a Cincinnati Enquirer man. Some one ordered

a drink, and when it came and everyone was about to raise his glass Farny

said "How!" It is an expression that is heard in a cafe hundreds of times a

day, and yet few people know its origin. Seated in the crowd at the table in

the Gibson House was an army officer, and someone said: "Where in the world

did this expression 'how' come from?" Then the army officer laughed, and

said: "Draw close my children, and I will tell you." And he did.

"'How' is an expression used by every man when he drinks, but it had its

beginning in a joke. Years ago, when the army was engaged in driving the red

man further and further towards the setting sun, the officers had many

experiences with the Indians, many pow-wows and meetings were held, and at

those assembled many Indians could speak but a few words of English. Army

officers are proverbially hospitable, and at these pow-wows they always

produced a bottle and asked the chiefs to drink. In those days the officers

said to the chiefs: 'I drink to your good health.' The chiefs, who knew but

a few words of English, always replied ' How.' The thing started as a joke,

but every army officer fell into the habit of saying 'How,' and now it is

recognized as the proper thing to say, when drinking, particularly when doing

so with the sons of Mars."