Throw My Hat in the Ring – Meaning and Origin

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

If you’ve decided to make a change, you might toss your hat in the ring concerning local political elections and choose to run for office. You also might be rising to a challenge and accepting the terms presented to you.

Throw my hat in the ring is an informal expression that has only been around for a few hundred years. Originally used in the context of spectator sports, it is now more often associated with people planning on hitting the campaign trail.

What Does it Mean to Throw My Hat in the ring?

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Throw one’s hat in the ring or toss one’s hat in the ring means to accept a challenge, express one’s willingness to compete, or announce one’s participation in a contest or run for candidacy.

It is most often used to mean that one is running for political office or applying for a job; however, the term is also used in athletic competition as well.

The phrase is also an idiom. An idiom is defined as a group of words established by use that has a meaning not deducible from the individual words.

This means that they only make sense when used in a specific order and way. Taken separately, they don’t explain anything that makes sense.

What Are Other Ways to Say Throw My Hat in the Ring?

To toss your hat in the ring or throw your hat in the ring can be expressed in multiple other ways. Some are a bit more direct, while others are idiomatic as well. For example:

  • Declare your candidacy
  • Challenge accepted
  • Put your name in the hat
  • Join the race
  • Run for office
  • Accept the terms

Examples of Throw My Hat in the Ring and Similar Sayings

  • As expected, the retired senator threw his hat into the ring for the upcoming gubernatorial elections.
  • Johnathon threw his hat into the ring for class president.
  • Brazil’s highest-rated soccer team tossed their hat into the ring and accepted the alumni match.
  • She was delighted he decided to toss his cap into the ring and run for the local elections.
  • Yet another candidate has chosen to throw their hat into the ring for the upcoming elections.

Throw My Hat in the Ring Origin

By all accounts, the phrase originated in publications concerning various athletic events during the early nineteenth century. In an 1805 issue of The Sporting Magazine, a boxer is said to have “[thrown] his hat into the ring” to defy his opponent and show his confidence in the accepted challenge.

Another publication in 1810 highlights a challenge presented by an umpire, upon which the opponents answered the call to fight by throwing their hats into the ring. Subsequent publications concerning athletic opponent challenges and later electoral campaigns consistently use the idiom to highlight their dedication to becoming a clear winner in whatever challenge they are facing.

This particular idiom has influenced many phrases, and the use of a hat to express behavior or opinion is a popular one. This is due to the fact that in the 1800s, hats were not only a functional item of clothing, but they also were a sign of social status and style. Other examples of sayings that include a hat include saying at the drop of a hat to explain something happened quickly or exclaiming hats off to a person or situation to show respect or to concede or congratulate a fair competition.

Throw my Hat in the Ring Used in Sentences

At Wednesday’s Harrietstown Republican caucus, former town supervisor Bob Bevilacqua threw his hat in the ring again, making the race for the town’s top spot a contested one. (Adirondack Daily Enterprise)

Earning over a quarter of a million dollars between Wednesday and Saturday nights, Overton threw his hat in the ring as the hottest racer in America, next to fellow Georgian Jonathan Davenport. (Chattanoogan)

Political newcomer Dee Jones has tossed his hat in the ring to vie with incumbent Mayor Holly Daines for Logan’s top elected post. (Cache Valley Daily)

Let’s Review

Throwing or tossing one’s hat in the ring originated with athletic competition, meaning a challenge was accepted, or one was willing to compete against an opponent. But, modern use more consistently uses the idiom to highlight the political run for office or acceptance to apply for a job or specific position.

Want to have more idioms in your arsenal? Check out some others we covered: