Hit the deck

Hit the deck is an idiom with an interesting origin. 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 hit the deck, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Hit the deck is a common idiom; its meaning depends on the context. Hit the deck is a way of saying to jump out of bed or to begin tackling a project. It may be considered the opposite of hit the hay or hit the sack, which mean to go to bed. Hit the deck is also a popular expression used to mean to drop to the ground. In this context, hit the deck is often used as a command when someone is under gunfire. The word deck refers to the floor of a ship. The expression hit the deck came into use at the turn of the twentieth century, originating in the navy, and achieved its peak popularity during World War II.


Another said she thought she should “hit the deck” for her own safety. (The Whidbey News-Times)

“At this time, Christopher Mullins ‘hit the deck’ and could hear the firearm discharge in an unknown location,” Thomas wrote. (The Appalachian News-Express)

Former marine Mace Williams said that he hit the deck when the anchor line on Buddy Vanderhoop’s boat snapped, a knee-jerk reaction to thinking that they were under fire. (The Vineyard Gazette)

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