It has been in continual use since the middle of the last century. The OED dates it to Nevada in 1865, but it probably derives from the career two decades earlier of Aleck Hoag, a badger in New York; that is somebody who steals money from the clothes of a man who, naked, is pleasuring himself with a prostitute. Subject of an 1844 book, he is in neither American National Biography nor the Encyclopaedia of New York City.Reuse content
ANYBODY WHO has named a child knows that it is vital to anticipate scenes in the playground. To have an infant dubbed Eric at the stoup is careless; Augustus might sound grand but risks antipodean taunts of gussie, while another Emperor, Alexander, could fall victim to being a smart alec(k), a show-off in talk or dress.