is first attested 1898. Slang sense of "cope with" (such as in can't hack it) is first recorded in Amer.Eng. 1955, with a sense of "get through by some effort," as a jungle.
c.1700, originally, "person hired to do routine work," short for hackney "an ordinary horse" (c.1300), probably from place name Hackney (Middlesex), from O.E. Hacan ieg "Haca's Isle" (or possibly "Hook Island"). Now well within London, it was once pastoral. Apparently nags were raised on the pastureland
there in early medieval times and taken to Smithfield horse market (cf. Fr. haquenée "ambling nag," an Eng. loan-word). Extended sense of "horse for hire" (late 14c.) led naturally to "broken-down nag," and also "prostitute" (1570s) and "drudge" (1540s). Special sense of "one who writes anything for hire" led to hackneyed "trite" (1749); hack writer is first recorded 1826, though hackney writer is at least 50 years earlier. Sense of "carriage for hire" (1704) led to modern slang for "taxicab."