phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Take off your hat

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on February 10, 2008 at 12:19:

In Reply to: Take off your hat posted by David FG on February 10, 2008 at 12:17:

: : : What is the meaning and origin of the phrase take off your hat to someone and also the phrase hit the roof?

: : HIT THE ROOF: blow up, get angry. Examples cited by the Oxford English Dictionary:
: : "(d) 1925 FRASER & GIBBONS Soldier & Sailor Words 245 Roof, to hit the, to get into a temper. 1928 J. P. MCEVOY Show Girl ix. 133 Milton gave me a couple of drinks early in the evening out of his flask and Jimmy hit the roof. 1971 V. CANNING Firecrest x. 149 The P.M. and his cabinet..would hit the roof if they knew half of the things that went on."

: : Hit the ceiling, an alternate form. OED examples.
: : "1914 Living Age (U.S.) Aug. 374 He will..'get warm round the collar', and may even 'hit the ceiling'. 1930 WODEHOUSE Very Good, Jeeves! xi. 287, I haven't breathed a word to Angela. She'd hit the ceiling. 1958 E. DUNDY Dud Avocado II. i. 193 Larry hit the ceiling and said he had to come along, that he'd spoil everything if he didn't."

: : Note here that "getting hot under the collar" is another way of saying, "becoming angry."

: : TAKE OFF YOUR HAT. It has long been a tradition among men to take one's hat off in entering a house or business office or church, almost anyplace indoors except a warehouse or a barn; in the presence of a woman, as when talking to her or acknowledging her presence, even if she is only passing by; when things deserving reverence or honor are present, such as the flag or a hero or military commander. If I take off my hat to you, it's a sign that you deserve great respect or honor, perhaps by creating a championship sports record, perhaps by saving your regiment by heroic action, perhaps by inventing something as useful as the flush toilet.

: : Even if all you accomplished was something I had not thought you capable of, I may say, "Hats off to you for that."
: : SS

: I have a minor quibble with a small bit of that. It is surely more usual for respect to be shown to a military commander by saluting him (and now her). On this side of the Atlantic a salute should only be given if one has a hat on, indeed, to that extent, to show respect to a superior one has to put a hat on.

: Although, as an aside, I believe the custom of saluting came about as a result of removing the hat, which has developed into a stylized touching of the cap.


That's correct, DFG; the military salute is indeed a vestigial doffing of the hat, which was once the universal gesture of respect in Western Europe. The French also use removal of the hat as a metaphor for showing respect, in a remarkably succinct form - in colloquial French the single word "Chapeau!" (literally: "hat") is used to mean "I take my hat off to you/him/her/them".