To hack is to cut or chop something with short strong blows, like if you hack your way through a thick jungle with a machete. To hack is also to illegally break into someone’s computer.
The Old English root word is haccian, which means “to cut into pieces,” but hack also means to cough frequently. A tickle in your throat can make you hack. If you call someone a hack, you mean they’re not great at what they do — especially writing. A mediocre writer is called a hack. Once upon a time hack was short for “an ordinary horse,” and now it’s an insult for writers. No one wants to be a hack!