Nearby words

  1. hoofprint,
  2. hooft,
  3. hoogh,
  4. hoogh, pieter de,
  5. hooghly,
  6. hook and eye,
  7. hook and ladder,
  8. hook bolt,
  9. hook check,
  10. hook of holland


Origin of hook

before 900; 1830–40, Americanism for def 36; Middle English hoke (noun and v.), Old English hōc (noun); cognate with Dutch hoek hook, angle, corner; akin to German Haken, Old Norse haki

Related formshook·less, adjectivehook·like, adjective

Can be confusedpenance pennants Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for by hook or by crook



a piece of material, usually metal, curved or bent and used to suspend, catch, hold, or pull something
short for fish-hook
a trap or snare
mainly US something that attracts or is intended to be an attraction
something resembling a hook in design or use
  1. a sharp bend or angle in a geological formation, esp a river
  2. a sharply curved spit of land
boxing a short swinging blow delivered from the side with the elbow bent
cricket a shot in which the ball is hit square on the leg side with the bat held horizontally
golf a shot that causes the ball to swerve sharply from right to left
surfing the top of a breaking wave
Also called: hookcheck ice hockey the act of hooking an opposing player
music a stroke added to the stem of a written or printed note to indicate time values shorter than a crotchet
a catchy musical phrase in a pop song
another name for a sickle
a nautical word for anchor
by hook or crook or by hook or by crook by any means
get the hook US and Canadian slang to be dismissed from employment
hook, line, and sinker informal completelyhe fell for it hook, line, and sinker
off the hook
  1. slangout of danger; free from obligation or guilt
  2. (of a telephone receiver) not on the support, so that incoming calls cannot be received
on one's own hook slang, mainly US on one's own initiative
on the hook slang
  1. waiting
  2. in a dangerous or difficult situation
sling one's hook British slang to leave


(often foll by up) to fasten or be fastened with or as if with a hook or hooks
(tr) to catch (something, such as a fish) on a hook
to curve like or into the shape of a hook
(tr) (of bulls, elks, etc) to catch or gore with the horns
(tr) to make (a rug) by hooking yarn through a stiff fabric backing with a special instrument
(tr often foll by down) to cut (grass or herbage) with a sickleto hook down weeds
boxing to hit (an opponent) with a hook
ice hockey to impede (an opposing player) by catching hold of him with the stick
golf to play (a ball) with a hook
rugby to obtain and pass (the ball) backwards from a scrum to a member of one's team, using the feet
cricket to play (a ball) with a hook
(tr) informal to trick
(tr) a slang word for steal
hook it slang to run or go quickly away
See also hook-up

Derived Formshookless, adjectivehooklike, adjective

Word Origin for hook

Old English hōc; related to Middle Dutch hōk, Old Norse haki

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for by hook or by crook
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for by hook or by crook

by hook or by crook

By whatever means possible, fair or unfair: “Polly was determined to get an A on the exam by hook or by crook.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with by hook or by crook


In addition to the idioms beginning with hook

  • hook or crook
  • hook up

also see:

  • by hook or crook
  • off the hook
  • on one's own account (hook)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.