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Hat Metaphors and Similes

Hat Metaphors and Similes

I collect these. Additions to this record are welcome. Also, be aware that in some situations I never know the origin of a specific expression. If you have understanding or theories of origin for something down below, I’d also like to listen to from you. I hope you enjoy these.

Talking Through Your Hat

To discuss nonsense or to lie. c1885. [In an interview in The World entitled “How About White Shirts”, a reporter asked a New York streetcar conductor what he thought about efforts to get the conductors to wear white shirts like their counterparts in Chicago. “Dey’re talkin’ tru deir hats” he was quoted as replying.]

Eating Your Hat

There is no these point as a absolutely sure matter, but that’s where this expression arrives from. If you notify someone you’ll eat your hat if they do a thing, make absolutely sure you might be not putting on your finest hat-just in circumstance. [The expression goes back at least to the reign of Charles II of Great Britain and had something to do with the amorous proclivities of ‘ol Charlie. Apparently they named a goat after him that had his same love of life which included, in the goat’s case, eating hats.]

Aged Hat

Previous, uninteresting stuff out of fashion. [This seems to come from the fact that hat fashions are constantly changing. The fact of the matter is that hat fashions had not been changing very fast at all until the turn of the 19th Century. The expression therefore is likely about 100 years old.]

Mad As A Hatter

Completely demented, outrageous. [Hatters did, indeed, go mad. They inhaled fumes from the mercury that was part of the process of making felt hats. Not recognizing the violent twitching and derangement as symptoms of a brain disorder, people made fun of affected hat-makers, often treating them as drunkards. In the U.S., the condition was called the “Danbury shakes.” (Danbury, Connecticut, was a hat-making center.) Mercury is no longer used in the felting process: hat-making — and hat-makers — are safe.]

Hat In Hand

A demonstration of humility. For case in point, “I arrive hat in hand” indicates that I come in deference or in weakness. [I assume that the origins are from feudal times when serfs or any lower members of feudal society were required to take off their hats in the presence of the lord or monarch (remember the Dr. Seuss book “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins”?). A hat is your most prideful adornment.]

Pass The Hat

Basically to go a man’s hat among members of an viewers or group as a usually means for amassing income. Also to beg or talk to for charity. [The origin is self-evident as a man’s hat turned upside down makes a fine container.]

Tight As Dick’s Hat Band

Something that is way too restricted. [The Dick in this case is Richard Cromwell, the son of England’s 17th Century “dictator”, Oliver Cromwell. Richard succeeded his dad and wanted to be king but was quickly disposed. The hatband in the phrase refers to the crown he never got to wear.]

Hat Trick

3 consecutive successes in a game or a further endeavor. For example, having a few wickets with a few successive pitches by a bowler in a activity of cricket, a few goals or points received by a player in a activity of soccer or ice hockey, and so forth. [From cricket, from the former practice of awarding a hat to a bowler who dismissed three batsmen with three successive balls.]

Really hard Hats

In the 19th Century, males who wore derby hats precisely Eastern businessmen and later on crooks, gamblers and detectives. [Derby hats, a.k.a. Bowlers or Cokes, were initially very hard as they were developed in 1850 for use by a game warden, horseback rider wanting protection.] Currently, “Really hard Hats” are design workers [for obvious reasons].

In One’s Hat, or In Hat

An expression of incredulity. [Origin unknown. Help us if you can]

Throwing A Hat In the Ring

Getting into a contest or a race e.g. a political operate for office environment. [A customer wrote us with the following: “I read in “The Language of American Politics” by William F. Buckley Jr. that the phrase “throw one’s hat in the ring” comes from a practice of 19th Century saloonkeepers putting a boxing ring in the middle of the barroom so that customers who wanted to fight each other would have a place to do so without starting a donnybrook. If a man wanted to indicate that he would fight anybody, he would throw his hat in the ring.
At one point, Theodore Roosevelt declared he was running for office with a speech that included a line that went something like, “My hat is in the ring and I am stripped to the waist”. The phrase “my hat in the ring” stuck, probably because “I am stripped to the waist” is a little gross.]

Hats Off . . .

“Hats off to the U.S. Winter Olympic Workforce” for illustration. An exclamation of approval or kudos. [Origins must be from the fact that taking one’s hat off or tipping one’s hat is a traditional demonstration of respect.]

A Feather In Your Cap

A special achievement. [I assume that the origins on this expression hail from the days when, in fact, a feather for one’s cap would be awarded for an accomplishment much like a medal is awarded today and pinned to one’s uniform. A feather, or a pin, add a certain prestige or luster to one’s apparel.]

Maintain On To Your Hat(s)

A warning that some pleasure or danger is imminent. [When riding horseback or in an open-air early automobile, the exclamation “hold on to your hat” when the horse broke into a gallop or the car took-off was certainly literal.]

Bee In Your Bonnet

An sign of agitation or an idea that you are not able to permit go of and just have to specific. [A real bee in one’s bonnet certainly precipitates expression.]

Donning A lot of Hats

This of class is a metaphor for possessing numerous distinct responsibilities or jobs. [Historically, hats have often been an integral, even necessary, part of a working uniform. A miner, welder, construction worker, undertaker, white-collar worker or banker before the 1960s, chef, farmer, etc. all wear, or wore, a particular hat. Wearing “many hats” or “many different hats” simply means that one has different duties or jobs.]

All Hat and No Cattle

All present and no substance. For example, in Oct 2003, Senator Robert Byrd declared that the Bush administration’s declarations that it desired the United Nations as a husband or wife in transforming Iraq ended up “All Hat and No Cattle”. [This Texas expression refers to men who dress the part of powerful cattlemen, but don’t have the herds back home.]

To Hang Your Hat (or not)

To commit to a thing (or not), or stake your status on a thing (or not), like an idea or plan. For case in point “I would not cling my hat on George Steinbrenner’s final decision to fire his supervisor.” [Origin unknown. Can anyone help with this one?]

At the Fall of a Hat

Fast. [Dropping a hat, can be a way in which a race can start (instead of a starting gun for example). Also, a hat is an apparel item that can easily become dislodged from its wearer. Anyone who wears hats regularly has experienced the quickness by which a hat can fly off your head.]

To Tip Your Hat or A Idea of the Hat

An endorsement of respect, acceptance, appreciation, or the like. Illustration: “A idea of the hat to American troops for the capture of Saddam Hussein.” [This is simply verbalizing an example of hat etiquette. Men would (and some still do) tip their hat to convey the same message.]

My Hat Instead of Myself

This is an expression from Ecuador, residence of the “Panama” hat. It usually means what is says it is preferable to give up your hat than your life. [The Guayas River runs through Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city on the Pacific coast. People from the city were known to hunt alligators for their hides in the river by swimming stark naked wearing Panama hats on their heads and long knives between their teeth. When the reptiles open their jaws and go for the swimmer, he dives leaving his hat floating on the surface for the alligator to chew on while he plunges the knife into the animal’s vitals. From THE PANAMA HAT TRAIL by Tom Miller.]

Negative Hat

I imagine this is a French expression for a terrible individual. [Ludwig Bemelmans’ MADELINE series of children’s books, set in France, includes one MADELINE AND THE BAD HAT. In this story Madeline, our heroine, refers to a little boy neighbor as a “bad hat”. She clearly means this as a metaphor for a bad person and because I do not know the expression in English, I assume this is a common French reference. If anyone out there knows more about this, please drop us an email.]

Hat by Hat

Step by step. [Nevada Barr’s book SEEKING ENLIGHTENMENT: Hat by Hat means just that. Has anyone heard this expression otherwise? If yes, please email us.]

Keeping Something Less than One’s Hat

Preserving a mystery. [People kept important papers and small treasures under their hats. One’s hat was often the first thing put on in the morning and the last thing taken off at night, so literally keeping things under one’s hat was safe keeping. A famous practitioner of this was Abraham Lincoln. The very utilitarian cowboy hat was also commonly used for storage.]

Here is Your Hat, But What is actually Your Hurry

When another person has taken up ample of your time and you want him/her to leave. [Origin unknown.]

Carry His Office in His Hat

Operating a company on a shoestring. [Important papers and the like were often carried in one’s hat.]

Sets Her Cap

A younger woman “sets her cap” for a youthful man who she hopes to desire in marrying her. [Long ago, maidens wore caps indoors because homes were poorly heated. A girl set her most becoming hat on her head when an eligible fellow came to call.]

Wondering Cap

To put on your “wondering cap” is to give some challenge careful considered. [Teachers and philosophers in the Middle Ages often wore distinctive caps that set them apart from those who had less learning. Caps became regarded as a symbol of education. People put them on (literally or figuratively) to solve their own problems.]

Black Hat . . .

Black hat ways, black hat intentions, etc. refer to nefarious actions or patterns. [Black hats in Western lore and literature were the bad guys.]

White Hat . . .

Although I don’t see or listen to this expression as much as “Black Hat”, it simply just is the reverse of the higher than. [Good guys wore/wear white hats.]