Jump Through Hoops – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Ever felt like you’re jumping through hoops? No, I don’t mean literally donning a sparkly leotard and prancing through a circus ring. This phrase carries a metaphorical weight that can often resonate with anyone who has ever had to deal with bureaucracy, demanding bosses or even overbearing in-laws.

Intrigued? Let’s dive in to understand the meaning of jumping through hoops, its origin, and how to use it in your daily conversation without making a clown of yourself.

Meaning of Jumping Through Hoops

Jump Through Hoops Idiom Origin Meaning

To jump through hoops means to go through several, usually tedious and unnecessary tasks or hurdles to achieve a goal. It conjures up an image of a trained circus animal, typically a dog or a lion, leaping through hoops to entertain an audience.

In the human context, it is usually less entertaining, especially if you’re the one doing the jumping. It reminds me of when we bought our first house. We thought it’d be as simple as giving a downpayment and signing some papers. We definitely weren’t expecting all the hoops and red tape we had to get through first before we could even put in an offer on a home.

Origin and Etymology of Jumping Through Hoops

This idiom derives from the tradition of animal performances in circuses, which were usually large cats. The animals, as part of their act, would literally jump through hoops, often set afire for that extra oomph. Geez, no wonder animals have been banned from circuses now.

We adopted the phrase metaphorically sometime in the early 20th century to describe a person being forced to go through many difficult or unnecessary tasks by someone in authority.

What’s Another Way to Say Jump Through Hoops?

When your inner thesaurus is demanding a break from jumping through hoops, consider these alternatives that work just as well.

  • Run the gauntlet
  • Go the extra mile
  • Bend over backwards
  • Go above and beyond
  • Cross the Rubicon
  • Pass the acid test

Jumping Through Hoops Examples in a Sentence

Jump Through Hoops Idiom Origin Meaning 1

To really get the hang of using the phrase jumping through hoops, let’s see it in action.

  • My boss had me jumping through hoops all week just to approve my vacation request, so I’ll be handing in my resignation when I get back.
  • I’ve been jumping through hoops while trying to get this deck permit approved, and it feels like I’m running in circles.
  • Students sometimes feel they’re jumping through hoops to meet the strict requirements of their college professors.
  • After our fire last year, we had to jump through hoops for months just to prove what we lost to the insurance company.

Bottom Line

And that’s jump through hoops in a nutshell. Remember, it’s not meant to be literal. It’s a figurative saying we use when we feel we’re being strung along or have obstacle after obstacle thrown at us as we try and reach a goal. I hope my guide was helpful! Check out all my other grammar tips and ideas for more knowledge!