What_Came_First_Hummer_Car_Blowjob

Which Came First — Hummer the Truck, or Hummer the Sex Act?

An army veteran, an etymologist and a sex historian weigh in on this, uh, humdinger

If the modern automobile had a status on Facebook, it would undoubtedly be “It’s complicated.” With their computer-controlled fuel-injection systems, continuously variable transmissions and three-phase four-pole AC induction motors, the days when every Tom, Dick or Harry could wrench on their ride seem long gone. So let us help — especially with the seemingly mundane stuff that if not done properly, your dad and/or his favorite mechanic vowed would ruin your car forever. Because when it comes to cars — and this column — no question is too dumb. 

Every time someone talks about the truck called the Hummer, I think of “the hummer,” as in the oral sex technique. And every time someone jokes about “the hummer,” I think of the truck. Please put me out of my misery, because I gotta know, which came first: The Hummer, or the hummer?
I feel your pain — one cannot help but think that both the Hummer and “the hummer” are inextricably linked like two binary stars, destined to revolve around one another until a supernova (or a black hole eats them).

Per usual, to start, some background is required. “Hummer is the shorthand or possibly trademarked name for the civilian version of the military light utility vehicle known as the Humvee,” Travis, a U.S. Army veteran tells me. “Humvee itself is shorthand for HMMWV, which, in true Army fashion, is an acronym for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle.”

The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (aka, the HMMWV, aka, the Humvee), is an armored 4×4 that’s been produced by AM General since 1983. But it wasn’t until 1992, after an intense pressure campaign from Arnold Schwarzenegger, that the Humvee was approved for civilian sales. (Schwarzenegger, naturally, bought the first one off the assembly line.) Nobody’s really sure when Humvee turned into Hummer, but it was probably around this time, as that’s when it was officially marketed as such. “I wasn’t around when it was originally fielded to the military, but it’s always been called a ‘Humvee’ because the acronym for the actual name is unpronounceable,” Travis explains.

Meanwhile, the blow job technique known as “the hummer” is quite a few years older. “The fellatio use definitely came before the vehicle use,” says Barry Popik, a man the Wall Street Journal refers to as “the restless genius of American etymology.” To wit, Popik found a mention of the word “hummer,” as in blow job, in E.E. Landy’s The Underground Dictionary, published all the way back in 1971, a full 12 years before the Humvee was created.

And the term was likely used well before that, says sex historian Hallie Lieberman — although now is as good a time as any to clarify that “hummer” doesn’t necessarily refer to a regular old blow job. “The term ‘hum job’ started popping up around 1964, and it specifically referred to humming while fellating someone,” Lieberman tells me. “An example given from the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang from a December 1969 edition of Screw magazine explains hum jobs this way: ‘A hum-job is the same as a blow-job, however in this case the blower hums a tune, preferably a patriotic one, bringing the blowee off.’”

Did the Hummer, then, get its name from the humming blow job technique? Unlikely, says Travis. “I don’t think there’s any relation between the oral sex slang and the vehicle nickname.”

And so, in the final analysis — if we’re going to beat the metaphorical horse to death — the Hummer and the hummer are more double stars than binary stars, in that they appear close at first glance but actually are quite far away from each other.