Sling your Hook (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Sling your Hook"?

The term sling your hook is polite way of telling someone to go away. This term has a nautical origin. Hook was a name given to the ship's anchor, and the sling was the cradle that housed the anchor. Therefore, to sling your hook meant to lift anchor, stow it and sail away.

A Competing Theory

At least as late as the 1930s, dockers in the Port of London used handheld cargo hooks to pull the loads from ships onto their backs. When a ship arrived for unloading, the dockers congregated on the dock side looking for work, and a foreman would select the men he wanted. Those who weren't selected were told to "sling yer 'ook!" (i.e., put their hooks away and leave).

(Thanks to Keith Kennedy for this entry.)
Sling your Hook (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • I don't want to see you in this corridor again. Sling your hook.
  • We were told to sling our hooks after we were caught stealing from the fridges.
  • Sling your hook. You're not supposed to be downstairs.

Previous and Next Sayings

Test Your Knowledge of English Proverbs and Idioms

Ready for the Test?

More Proverbs, Sayings, and Idioms

Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?

Find Us Quicker!

  • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.
Next lesson >

See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

Page URL