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Sling your hook

Posted by Smoke;y Stover on February 22, 2008 at 14:11:

In Reply to: Sling your hook posted by Ian Ramsay on February 21, 2008 at 12:39:

: Re. "sling your hook" being a dockers phrase?: I had always understood that it was a sailors phrase. The "hook" being the anchor which when hauled up was catted, tied or slung, to the cathead to stop it swinging about freely with the motion of the ship. The ship could then move off. Hence to "sling your hook" meant to move off or go away. Any thoughts?

Youar idea is plausible, if you accept that every puzzling expression must be of nautical or agricultural origin. The Oxford English Dictionary gives many meanings for "hook," and recognizes the phrase, "sling one's hook." The examples cited, however, suggest that the hook in question is something one carries with him, and no one is likely to carry an anchor about. I know that one use of "sling" is to sling something over one's shoulder, but that's more specific than any of the examples cited. Here's a couple (from among several more).

1890 KIPLING Barrack-Room Ballads 34 Before you sling your 'ook, at the 'ousetops take a look. 1892 'F. ANSTEY' Mr. Punch's Model Music-Hall Songs 130 Take your 'ook while you can.

Add also two of those listed s.v. sling:

1874 Slang Dict. 295 Sling your hook, a polite invitation to move-on. 1897 Daily News 1 Sept. 2/2 If you don't sling yer hook this minute, here goes a pewter pot at yer head.

In none of the examples cited for either word, sling or hook, is there the least nautical suggestion.