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Throwing your hat

Posted by Gagush1 on January 12, 2004

In Reply to: Throwing your hat posted by Ward Fredericks on December 29, 2003

It comes from the boxing ring. In the early 19th century, when boxing was quite popular, one who wished to challenge a boxer would throw his hat into the ring. This was probably necessitated by the crowds and noise at such events; you'd be missed if you simply tried to shout out a challenge or push your way through the crowd and into the ring. John Hamilton Reynolds wrote in The Fancy: "Throw in his hat, and with a spring get gallantly within the ring." This is from 1820 and is the first recorded use of the term.

The phrase soon came to be used figuratively to mean "to enter a contest" and then "to enter a political contest". Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt used it in 1912:"My hat's in the ring", he said, meaning that he had entered the presidential race.