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While talking with a group of people about the early days of aviation and especially about the Wright brothers, in the context of the small May 1904 article and a presentation video you can see below, somebody, likely trying to make a joke said "maybe kitty hoax", implying that the Wrights falsely pretended four successful flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, just to prepare the terrain for getting funds from the US, British and French governments for developing their nonfunctional airplane.

The Wilmington Messenger, Wilmington, North Carolina, May 26, 1904, col. 1, p. 6, AND The Daily Free Press, Kinston, North Carolina, May 27, 1904, col. 6, p. 1. (Source: newspapers.com)

“Elizabeth City Economist: A gentleman visiting this city whose home is in Kitty Hawk, is responsible for the assertion that the Wright brothers, of airship fame, will return to Kitty Hawk in the near future and resume work on their aerial monster. According to this gentleman the airship has never been removed from Kitty Hawk and nearly all the interviews published in the papers of Norfolk have been erroneous in this respect. This gentleman has assisted the Wrights in all their work and has a general supervision of their property during their absence. He says that they have not completed the ship and that they will return some time within the next month and resume their work. A story is current that they will complete the ship and make the trip from here to St. Louis sometime this fall.”

Video about the doubtful 160+ flights of the Wright brothers performed during the interval 1903-1905.

Does "kitty hoax" really mean something in English?

3 Answers 3

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'Kitty hoax' is a joking play on words arising from the fact that the Wright brothers' first powered flight took place at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA. The suggestion would be that the first flight was a fabrication.

The joke is entirely derived from the name of a place. 'Kitty' in 'kitty hoax" comes from the place name Kitty Hawk. One story is that the original Native American (Algonquin) name was written by the first English speaking colonists as 'Chickenhauk', and that this evolved into the modern name. Another theory is that 'kitty' was a name for the wren, and the place was where 'mosquito hawks' preyed on them. Any theory related to cats is unlikely.

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  • I know that a "kitty hawk" is a bird and a "hawk" is another similar bird. The word "kitty" could come from "cat" (cat hawk). However, the "kitty" in "kitty hoax" must have a different meaning, I believe?!
    – Argon
    Dec 27, 2020 at 16:52
  • Minutes ago, after writing the last comment, I have just found in the dictionary that "kitty" means "a fund of money for communal use, made up of contributions from a group of people."
    – Argon
    Dec 27, 2020 at 17:27
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    @Argon I'm not sure they were intending to use that definition of "kitty". Like others have said, I'm pretty sure the whole joke is the Wright brothers having their first flight at Kitty Hawk and combining it with the word hoax to make "kitty hoax".
    – Nosrep
    Dec 27, 2020 at 17:32
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    "Kitty" here does not have any meaning at all other than being part of the place's name. Why the place has that name is another question and not relevant to understanding the pun. If the place happened to be called "Plerz Hawk", the pun might be "Plerz Hoax", even though "plerz" isn't an English word.
    – aschepler
    Dec 27, 2020 at 17:47
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    It's a pretty common joke response format. Keep one of the words and change the other. eg Hey did you hear what president trump did? "President trump? More like president DUMP" (this isn't the greatest example but it shows the format) As others have said, kitty has no meaning here. Or: Fox News? more like FAUX news! Often times these jokes are done a bit tongue in cheek with the knowledge that you are making a "dad joke"
    – eps
    Dec 27, 2020 at 18:12
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As an American, I have never heard the term "kitty hoax". It sounds like something somebody made up in response to that video.

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Does "kitty hoax" really mean something in English?

No it does not. It is completely meaningless in normal conversation.

It only has meaning in this very specific conversation as a pun. If someone said it in a different situation no-one would know what they were talking about.

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