An Appalachian colloquialism that was used in early twentieth century America to refer to things whose names were forgotten or unknown. In this usage it was synonymous with thingamajig or whatchamacallit, as in “hand me that hootenanny.” Hootenanny was also an old country word for “party”. Now, most commonly, it refers to a folk-music party.

“Hootenanny” was also used by the leadership of early firefighting battalions to describe a “meeting of the minds” or higher ups of various department heads. The term has trickled down to working companies and is now used, with some frequency, at working incidents and other circumstances that require a focused discussion between key individuals. Most recently it was adopted for use during the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference. Logistics professionals for the conference employ the word to call together the required personnel needed to accomplish the prodigious assignments placed on them.


1. A noisy celebration.

2. A mass gathering or assembly, as of a political party or association.

3. A long mixed program of entertainment.

4. A large assembly often international, especially of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

First known use 1864

I’m not sure why, but these two words just tickle me. I’m always up for a hootenanny or a jamboree!  Anyone?