put one's name in the hat

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Alternative forms[edit]


From the informal practice of putting ballots into a hat, and then drawing a single ballot from the hat at random to decide the winner. When one put one's own name on a ballot in the hat, one would therefore be eligible to win.


put (some)one's name in the hat

  1. (idiomatic) To run in an election or to nominate oneself for consideration in some other selection process; to nominate someone other than oneself for such consideration.
    • 1996, Lillian Smith, How Am I to Be Heard?: Letters of Lillian Smith, Margaret Rose Gladney (ed.), →ISBN, p. 118:
      [H]e would not embarrass his friends by running. So they rose up and put his name in the hat—which is exactly what I expected them to do.
    • 2006 May 14, Brian Wise, "A Free Ride at Yale? Where Do I Sign Up?," New York Times (retrieved 16 June 2011):
      "Most students now think to themselves: ‘How can I not apply to Yale?’" he said. "You just have to put your name in the hat."
    • 2009 Oct. 17, "Astros interview ex-manager Garner for vacancy," USA Today (retrieved 16 June 2011):
      "That's why I decided to put my name in the hat and see if there's a fit here."

Usage notes[edit]

  • Usually used to refer to a situation in which one nominates oneself, but sometimes used to refer to nominations of one person by others (as in the 1996 quotation above).