Term “Hustler” – Definitions
There are a lot of different meanings for the words “Hustler” and “Hustle.” Meanings can be very contrasting depending on the situation where these words are used. In case, implications are positive, the infinitive “to hustle” means:
- to have drive and ambition
- to get tasks done quickly
- to achieve things
However, when the undertones are negative, the infinitive “to hustle” can mean completely opposite like dishonesty, corruption, disreputability, and even human trafficking or prostitution. “To hustle” is derived from the Dutch word “husselen” which means “to shake.” It relates to something that is rushing, quick, and if taken in the human sense, something done without proper care. For instance, if someone is said to “hustle somewhere,” it can mean that they are travelling swiftly and quite probably they are in a rush so maybe there’s something that makes the trip difficult or problematic in some way. Another example when “to hustle” has more positive connotation is related to achievements in work or sports. In this case, it means the release of energy and is taken positively.
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There is a great deal of positive definitions of this word, but similarly to other modern idiomatic terms that have appeared recently, there are also a lot of negative connotations. One of the examples of usage “hustler” for giving a negative characteristic is when we describe an unfair and dishonest person in terms of business and enterprise, or someone who defrauds others for profit. The term “hustler” is also applied to people who rise to dominance. Overall, decadent, unworthy, and dishonest behaviors which include unlawful activities are also implied by the term.
“The Hustler” movie which premiered in 1961 and stars Paul Newman highlights the negative concept of hustling. Paul’s character Eddie Felson, whose nickname is “Fast”, is a pool player who gets into trouble following his dealings with the criminal world. After reconsideration, a famous baseball player Pete Rose gave the word a positive meaning of this word. He coined the term “Charlie Hustle” because of the aggressive playing style that brought many victories to his team. In his later life, Pete Rose was involved in gambling, dodgy dealing, and associated himself with questionable people, so the original nickname took on a double meaning.
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As you can see, the word “hustler” has a lot of contrast meanings and is quite vague unless the context is given. Without the context, the word is neutral. This word can be used to praise ambitious drive or someone’s great work both in business and in general. Nevertheless, it can be used to express shadier things, like deception and dishonesty. The recent connotations of this word are connected to sexuality because of the cognominal adult entertainment channel.
Because of the wide number of meanings, it is highly advisable to be very careful about the usage of this word and even better to replace it with less ambiguous synonyms.