I'll eat my hat

Posted by James Briggs on July 30, 2003

'I'll eat my hat' is an expression, in Britain at least, that means 'that's the last thing I'll do; I'd rather go to prison than do that', or something similar. I guess it's also known elsewhere. It's an odd saying and I've never found an origin. However, the other day in the weekly 'historical supplement' to our local evening paper, which contains a Q&A section, the following was suggested.

Q. How on earth did such a daft expression as "I'll eat my hat" become so popular. Has anyone ever eaten their hat?
Percy Jones, Chipping Sodbury

A. Yes, they have, but hat in this case doesn't come from the headwear but from "hattes", an early meatball made from veal, dates, saffron and other spices and bound with egg. Eating your "hatte" sounds a much happier fate than breakfasting on your bowler although there are numerous cases recorded of folk doing just that.

There's no supporting evidence for this. Any ideas?