greenhorn

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Unconfirmed. Hypotheses include:

  • Middle English grene horne, the horn of a newly slaughtered animal
  • From the reference to an animal with green (that is, young) horns
  • From 17th century jewelery manufacturing which used decorated horn which was impressed at a specific temperature. If heated too high (a common mistake by apprentices), the horn turned green.
  • From a misappropriation of the German expression "Grün hinter den Ohren" (to be green behind the ears).

Noun[edit]

greenhorn (plural greenhorns)

  1. (chiefly US) an inexperienced person; a novice, beginner or newcomer
    • 1847, George Frederick Augustus Ruxton, Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains, page 267:
      The powers of the Canadian voyageurs and hunters in the consumption of meat strike the greenhorn with wonder and astonishment; and are only equalled by the gastronomical capabilities exhibited by Indian dogs, both following the same plan in their epicurean gorgings.

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