Look, you kin have yer fancy collusion. Where I come from, we ain’t doin no contracts n legal stuff, we ain’t meetin in no dim rooms with expensive wine, we jes go in cahoots. It’s like an ol owl who’s wise to what’s up an is hootin in another owl’s ear. It’s like you meet someone at a hootenanny an you jis start talkin, an nobody else even hears what yer sayin cuz it’s so noisy there anyways. Or you don’t talk, you jes understand.
Also, it’s French.
Y’see, that makes sense. Cuz if yer in cahoots, it’s something nefarious. Sure, used to be you cud jus say yer goin in cahoots with someone on some business thing, or before that, in the early 1800s, goin in a cahoot or jes goin in cahoot. Those were simpler, more economical times, where you only needed one cahoot. Now you got enough for a caboose. And it’s cahoots with the devil, or government, or the CIA, or some other bad guy. So of course it’s French.
Don’t ask me how it got to the southern and western United States, but it did. Maybe by way of Lousiana. But how it got into French, well, now, that’s another thing again. Seems like someone jes plotted to git it in. A friend or cohort, and they got together in some dirty little cabin an said, “Arright, let’s git this word into the language.” Why? Why knows why. It’s there n we use it an it works.
But yup. Some sources say cahoot comes from cohorte. I guess in the same way as vamoose comes from vámanos, you know. It mighta sounded different to start with, but we do what we do. But other sources, including some a the big ones, say nah, it was cahute, which means ‘shack’ or ‘hut’ or, as Littré says, “petite loge, mauvaise hutte.” An the best part a this is that while ca- is a prefix you could (if you was French) stick on somethin to make it worse (not sayin caboom is a bad boom but if it was it would be, an don’t ask me what a boose or a boodle would be), an while some even say it’s from cabane so a cahute is a cabane, is a hutte, is both a cabane and a hutte, it’s not rilly sure that the hute comes from hutte (you know, hut but in French). Seems like the oldest French forms are like cahue, and cahuette, an even quahute (don’t think that’s like a quahog, but at this point who knows). The thing about cahoots is you don’t know everything that gets decided an how. Someone jes got together, ya know, an maybe they didn’t even discuss it, but here we are.
Which is rilly how language works most a the time. We’re all in cahoots. It’s a shady bizness, words, full a quiet an informal agreements. Heck, we wouldn’t even understand each other if we wasn’t in cahoots. Did someone hafta tell you what cahoots meant, or did you jes see it sometime, “They were in cahoots with the bad guys,” an you jes figgered it out? An did someone ever tell you what eye dialect for some western farmer or rancher looked like, or did you jes pick it up? Cuz if you got through all this here word tastin, you’re in cahoots too.