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Re: He's talking through his hat

Posted by Bruce Kahl on February 02, 2002

In Reply to: He's talking through his hat posted by Ortin on February 02, 2002

: My grandmother used to sometimes say "he's talking through his hat", which I believe meant "he doesn't know what he's talking about" or "he's talking pure hogwash." Now I believe (don't know) that this is what the expression meant. Does anyone know for sure? And what about where the expression came from?

Lifted from the Word Detective:

" "To talk through one's hat" was apparently a widespread idiom by the late 1880s meaning "to talk nonsense," although it initially seems to have carried the added connotation of "to lie." The precise logic and origins of the phrase are unclear. One theory, perhaps reflecting the earlier "to lie" meaning, maintains that the phrase refers to men in church who hold their hats over their faces while feigning prayer. Another possibility is that the phrase refers to the emptiness of the hat atop one's head, as if one were thinking and speaking with an empty head. It's also possible that "talk through one's hat" is an oblique reference to another phrase, "to talk off the top of one's head," meaning to speak speculatively, without thorough consideration."