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Re: Tin hat

Posted by Lewis on September 20, 2004

In Reply to: Re: Tin hat posted by ESC on September 20, 2004

: : : : To put the tin hat on something is to finish it off or bring it to an end. To put a kibosh on something has much the same meaning. As we saw in a thread at the beginning of this month, 'kibosh' is likely derived from the Gaelic expression for 'death cap,' as donned by a judge when issuing a death sentence.

: : : : Does 'tin hat' have a similar origin?

: : : doubt it. it sounds like a first-world war expression - to be fully uniformed would be to put the tin hat on it - the last piece of kit. I don't think helmets were called 'tin hats' until they were introduced in WWI. there is some difference between traditional helms and the WWI helmets - perhaps the purpose - WWI tin hats replaced cloth 'forage caps' which had superseded pith helmets/berets/cavalry helmets etc for much of the army.
: : : the introduction of steel helmets actually led to an increase in head injuries - previously the soldiers had just died on the spot.

: : : Eric Bogle's 'The Band Played Waltzilg Matilda' mentions the 'tin hat.'
: : : "Now when I was a young man I carried me pack
: : And I lived the free life of the rover.
: : From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback,
: : Well, I waltzed my Matilda all over.
: : Then in 1915, my country said, "Son,
: : It's time you stop ramblin', there's work to be done."
: : So they gave me a tin hat, and they gave me a gun,
: : And they marched me away to the war.

: TIN HAT - "A soldier's name for this protective metal helmet. To 'put the tin hat' on something is to bring it to an abrupt and conclusive end." From "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition).

: It doesn't have a reason for the expression. Being a soldier would certain limit one's options for the immediate future. I'm wondering if it has anything to do with putting a lid on a cooking pot.

there are similarities with 'put the lid on it' or to 'cap it all', but the tin hat reference is an army one from WWI. when soldiers have their kit issued or inspected - the helmet was the top-most/final piece. think of kit inspection - the hat is on top of the uniform at the foot of the bunk.