three hots and a cot

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Rhyming expression from the idea of three hot meals daily and a bed to sleep on.


  • (file)


three hots and a cot (uncountable)

  1. (slang) Prison.
    • 1996 January 29, Unknown, “JUST FOLKS
      Homeless man who went on-line jailed on charge of stealing batteries”, in Sarasota Herald-Tribune[1]:
      “I've never been to jail before,” [Neal] said. “But there is a bright side: three hots and a cot at taxpayer expense.”
  2. (slang) Basic food and shelter.
    • 1987 February 28, Jay Mathews, “Homeless Shelter Officials Differ on Problem’s Scope, Nature”, in The Washington Post[2], archived from the original on 2023-02-22:
      It is, said the Rev. Eugene Boutilier, emergency services issues manager for the United Way, an important part of the mix of services that better-endowed cities are trying to provide to street people. "We need more than just three hots and a cot," he said.
    • 2009 May 10, David Streitfeld, “The Recession Made Them Do It”, in The New York Times[3], archived from the original on 2022-10-11:
      The voluntary prisoner in search of "three hots and a cot" is a persistent figure in American popular culture.
    • 2015 September 25, Sam Thielman, “New York City owes homeless aid organization $2.5m in unpaid funds”, in The Guardian[4], archived from the original on 2020-11-08:
      Doe raises the necessary money for its residents' wages; the city provides the money for "three hots and a cot".
    • 2017, Nancy Price, Blonde Broads, College Station, T.X.: Virtualbookworm Publishing, →ISBN, page 174:
      I guess I don't have much self-esteem. I'm grateful for the three hots and a cot for four weeks.

Further reading[edit]