Where does the term "hack writer" come from? Did writers of yore drive taxis, or is there another reason?
We went to the place all words come from (the Oxford English Dictionary) and discovered that "hack" is short for "hackney": "One who is used to do mean or servile work for hire." That includes carriage, or taxi, drivers and ladies of the evening--both uses of the word "hack" that date to the 18th century. Somehow, writers were also lumped in with that group--in the sense of "a literary drudge who hires himself out to do any and every kind of literary work." In journalism, we have another term for people like that: freelancers.