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Talking through once hat"?

Posted by Bruce Kahl on June 08, 2005

In Reply to: Talking through once hat"? posted by David FG on June 08, 2005

: : what's the meaning of "talking through once hat"?

: 'Talking through one's hat' means talking rubbish but I have no idea why. Does anyone?


From the Word Detective:

"To "talk through one's hat" means to talk nonsense, to pontificate on a subject one knows nothing about, and to make ludicrous assertions with unshakable confidence. The character Cliff in the old "Cheers" TV series, with his bottomless reservoir of absurd explanations for everything, was a sterling example of someone who habitually "talks through his hat."

"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, as you say, 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."