What's in the name "hookah"? - shisha by any other would taste as sweet

You can't have a hookah without a hookah session. Well, technically, you can have an unused hookah and therefore no hookah sessions, but such unspeakable oddities shan't be dwelt upon in this blog. The problem is, as anyone who has used the term “hookah session” three times in as many sentences knows, the phrase is cumbersome, unwieldy, and connotatively inadequate to capture the spirit of one or more people enjoying a hookah. George Orwell once advised that one never use a long word when a short word will do. Ignoring the fact that he also suggested disregarding his suggestions, I've set out to find (or coin, as the case may warrant) a single word, shorter than the phrase "hookah session" that expresses the subtle joy of the instance of smoking a hookah. How do names arise? This four-word question has occupied cumulative centuries of research, study, and evolution – so I won't try to answer it. Rather, I'll focus my energies on deliberately naming a relaxing phenomena. The word for the occasion ("le mot juste" in French) must be taken from a root already well known to the hookah community (or "hookammunity"?), I figure, for it to gain popular usage. The English language is a tricky one, filled with prefixes and suffixes of shadowy origin.  The Dictionary.com, an online compilation of several respected dictionaries, defines the suffix "-ist" as "a suffix of nouns, often corresponding to verbs ending in -ize or nouns ending in -ism, that denote a person who practices or is concerned with something, or holds certain principles, doctrines, etc...". Therefore, one who smokes a hookah may be known as a "hookahist".  While this word suits our purpose well enough, it doesn't chime appetizingly in the ear.  Plug in a more traditional word for "hookah" - nargile - and you get: "nargilist".  By extension, the act of smoking a hookah could be "nargilism", or "nargility".  Why "have a hookah session" when you can "nargilize"?.  When you've smoked enough, you drop your hose and sink back happily nargilized.  The word "hookah" has served us too well to be thrown out.  One can certainly "hookahlate", and if you take your shisha seriously, feel free to "hubbly-bubblify" a bit.  Have some suggestions?  Add them in a comment to this blog, and you may find yourself in the dictionary!

Comments (10) -

  • Haha, great article Christopher! I often use the term smookah:
    Smookah- v. To smoke hookah; the act of smoking hookah or hookah session. ex. "When can we smookah?" or "Want to smookah with me this weekend, sweetie buns?" or " Tatum, you've got lung cancer from smookahing seven bowls an hour for 27 years straight...."

    In terms of origin, I don't know where it really came from, or how I came to use this word with such regularity, but I can not take credit for coining such a phrase :p
    • Hey Tatum - how's the breakdancing going?  I like "smookah", it can sound like a new slang as "I smookah some horchata".
      "Just smookahed some Blue Mist with Cocos" sounds like an obscure euphemism!
      Keep up the good smoke!
      - Christopher -
  • The bboyin' is going well actually! Still no windmills, but closer everytime! My crew actually has a performance tomorrow at some school function... we'll see how that goes...

    How have you been? Long time no chat! haha... I got my paragon from you guys- so fabulous! When we gonna see that Natural Order movie? eh? Smile Deuces.
  • instead of hookah session I always just say "hookah" (i turn the noun into a verb)"You guys wanna' hookah?"
  • I prefer to just use the word Hookah as a verb.  EX: "Let's go Hookah"
  • Nice article first off!
    But something that my buddies and I have been calling our "hookah sessions" is "hookie". *Similiar in pronunciation to "playing hookie", as in ditching school*.
    Used in context as "Sup dude, come over and hookie" or "What flavor are we hookin?"
    I donno, just something thats stuck around the house.
  • I have always said "lets go hookah it up" but of course hookah and it kinda get mashed together
  • TC
    Like many others, I just simply use the term 'hookah'. In fact, instead of the phrase, "Hey, you guys want to go smoke some hookah?", it has more or less been shortened to, in all cases, "Hookah?"
  • Good Morning just figured i will let you know i had a issue with your blog appearing frozen as well. Might be gremlins in the page.
  • Why don't you try using the Arab version of the verb. Nergila is the noun, and you can say to 'ner-gill' with the 'g' pronounced as in 'go'.

    "Hey, lets go nergill"