See also: hark-back
- (hunting) Of hounds: to retrace a course in order to pick up the lost scent of prey.
- (by extension) To return to where one has previously been; to retrace one's steps.
- 1885, H[enry] Rider Haggard, “Hans’ City of Rest”, in The Witch’s Head […], volume III, London: Hurst and Blackett, […], OCLC 19049739, page 18:
- He must have overshot the mark, and must hark back. So he turned his weary horse's head, and made his way back along the road to the spot where his spoor struck into it.
- (figuratively) To allude, return, or revert (to a subject previously mentioned, etc.); also, to evoke, or long or pine for (a past era or event). [from 19th c.]
- 1881, W[illiam] E[dward] Norris, “A Racecourse and a Cathedral”, in Matrimony. […], volume II, London: Smith, Elder & Co., […], OCLC 1152811844, pages 76–77:
- Mr. Flemyng, who had been assuaging his thirst with more champagne during the afternoon, had harked back to the subject of his morning's discourse, and was laying down an authoritative scheme of ethics, in the course of which sundry hard words, such as transcendentalism, pseudo-materialism and the like, lost a syllable here and there.
- 2006 September 11, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Bush Mourns 9/11 at Ground Zero as N.Y. Remembers”, in The New York Times, New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, ISSN 0362-4331, OCLC 971436363, archived from the original on 22 December 2020:
- Harking back to the theme of a series of speeches he [George W. Bush] delivered last week, he said he was reminded that "there's still an enemy out there that would like to inflict the same kind of damage again."
- (transitive, hunting) To call back (hounds); to recall.
The forms harken back and hearken back have been used since the 1930s, and the bare form harken has been used since the 1980s, though some authorities frown on these and prefer the traditional form hark back.
of hounds: to retrace a course in order to pick up the lost scent of prey
to allude, return, or revert to (a subject previously mentioned, etc.); to evoke, or long or pine for (a past era or event)
to call back (hounds) — see recall
- Alternative form of
act of hounds retracing a course in order to pick up the lost scent of prey
act of alluding, returning, or reverting (to a subject previously mentioned, etc.); act of evoking, or long or pining for (a past era or event)
- ^ Paul Brians (2009) , “hark/hearken”, in Common Errors in English Usage, 2nd edition, Wilsonville, Or.: William, James & Company, →ISBN.
- ^ See, for example, Don Hoeferkamp (31 January 2011) , “Harking Back/Hearkening Back”, in A Lighthearted Book of Common Errors, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Trafford Publishing, →ISBN, page 33.
- ^ Mark Liberman (25 June 2004) , “Harping Back or Harking Back?”, in Language Log, archived from the original on 1 February 2021.
- “hark back, v.” under “hark, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020.
- “hark back, n.” under “hark, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2019.
- “hark back, phrasal v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
- Merriam–Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1994, →ISBN, page 497.