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The meaning and origin of the expression: Get the sack

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Get the sack

Meaning

Be dismissed from a job.

Origin

The probable derivation of this phrase is an allusion to tradesmen, who owned their own tools and took them with them in a bag or sack when they were dismissed from employment.

It has been known in France since the 17th century, as 'On luy a donné son sac'. The first recorded English version is in Charles Westmacott's The English Spy, 1825:

"You munna split on me, or I shall get the zack for telling on ye."

In his 1869 'Slang Dictionary', John Hotten records these alternatives - 'get the bag' (from the North of England) and 'get the empty' (from London).

See also, the order of the boot.