off the hook

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Etymology 1[edit]

An allusion to a fish caught on the hook of a fishing line.


  • (file)


off the hook (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) Relieved of a duty, burden, responsibility, or pressure.
    When the boss assigned the project to Tom, the rest of us were relieved to be off the hook.
    Without any evidence, the police had to let the suspect off the hook.

Etymology 2[edit]

Referring to the candlestick phone, which in order to hang up, the receiver must be hung on a hook. Leaving the receiver off the hook would prevent it from being able to receive calls.


off the hook (not comparable)

  1. Of a telephone, having an open connection; not hung up.
    I think he left the phone off the hook so that nobody would call him.
  2. Of a telephone, ringing frequently.
    The phone was ringing off the hook all night.

Etymology 3[edit]



off the hook (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic, informal, sports) Performing extraordinarily well.
    That's five three-pointers in a row! Smith is off the hook!
  2. (idiomatic, informal, slang) Fresh, cool, trendy, excellent.
    That party was off the hook!

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]