Hats off to

Hats off to is an idiom that has been in use for over 100 years. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom hats off to, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Hats off to is an idiom that is used when expressing admiration for a job well done, praise for good work, or appreciation for a deed someone has accomplished. The expression hats off to is an accolade. The idiom hats off to is an abbreviated form of the phrase take one’s hat off to, which is also still in use. The term hats off to came into use in the 1800s, but its popularity peaked in the 1920s-1940s.


Hats off to the folks at Charles River Laboratories, which has donated $30,000 to the Lowcountry Food Bank to help feed Lowcountry neighbors who struggle with hunger. (Charleston Currents)

On view in the lower level exhibit space before and after the program will be Hats off to the Ladies, an exhibit celebrating 100 years of Women’s Suffrage featuring accomplished Manistee women and the hats they wore and the Madsen Lumbering Dioramas. (Manistee News Advocate)

“I take my hat off to the HSE who tried to do things that no one had done previously despite a relative lack of expertise in the area.” (The Irish Examiner)

Leave a Comment