Hit the Hay (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Hit the Hay"?

The term "hit the hay" means to go to bed.
Hit the Hay (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • You look tired. Why don't you hit the hay for a few hours?
  • I'm going to hit the hay early tonight.
The idiom "hit the hay" has been used since the early 19th century but was not in common use until the early 20th century (evidence). "Hit the hay" originates from the practice of stuffing sacks with hay to make mattresses. This is also the origin of the term hit the sack.

Competing Theory

It originates from the practice of farm workers (which was a high proportion of the populace in the early 19th century) sleeping in haystacks. Supporters of this theory highlight that "hit the sack" was used far later than "hit the hay" (evidence).

In both theories, the word "hay" is a metonym for bed.

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