[hoo ks]


Benjamin Lawson,1925–2010, U.S. lawyer, clergyman, and civil-rights advocate: executive director of the NAACP 1977–93.


[hoo k]


a curved or angular piece of metal or other hard substance for catching, pulling, holding, or suspending something.
a fishhook.
anything that catches; snare; trap.
something that attracts attention or serves as an enticement: The product is good but we need a sales hook to get people to buy it.
something having a sharp curve, bend, or angle at one end, as a mark or symbol.
a sharp curve or angle in the length or course of anything.
a curved arm of land jutting into the water; a curved peninsula: Sandy Hook.
a recurved and pointed organ or appendage of an animal or plant.
a small curved catch inserted into a loop to form a clothes fastener.
  1. the path described by a ball, as in baseball, bowling, or golf, that curves in a direction opposite to the throwing hand or to the side of the ball from which it was struck.
  2. a ball describing such a path.
Boxing. a short, circular punch delivered with the elbow bent.
  1. Also called flag, pennant.a stroke or line attached to the stem of eighth notes, sixteenth notes, etc.
  2. an appealing melodic phrase, orchestral ornament, refrain, etc., often important to a popular song's commercial success.
Metalworking. an accidental short bend formed in a piece of bar stock during rolling.
hooks, Slang. hands or fingers: Get your hooks off that cake!
Underworld Slang. a pickpocket.
Also called deck hook. Nautical. a triangular plate or knee that binds together the stringers and plating at each end of a vessel.

verb (used with object)

to seize, fasten, suspend from, pierce, or catch hold of and draw with or as if with a hook.
to catch (fish) with a fishhook.
Slang. to steal or seize by stealth.
Informal. to catch or trick by artifice; snare.
(of a bull or other horned animal) to catch on the horns or attack with the horns.
to catch hold of and draw (loops of yarn) through cloth with or as if with a hook.
to make (a rug, garment, etc.) in this fashion.
Sports. to hit or throw (a ball) so that a hook results.
Boxing. to deliver a hook with: The champion hooked a right to his opponent's jaw.
Rugby. to push (a ball) backward with the foot in scrummage from the front line.
to make hook-shaped; crook.

verb (used without object)

to become attached or fastened by or as if by a hook.
to curve or bend like a hook.
  1. (of a player) to hook the ball.
  2. (of a ball) to describe a hook in course.
Slang. to depart hastily: We'd better hook for home.

Verb Phrases

hook up,
  1. to fasten with a hook or hooks.
  2. to assemble or connect, as the components of a machine: to hook up a stereo system.
  3. to connect to a central source, as of power or water: The house hasn't been hooked up to the city's water system yet.
  4. Informal.to join, meet, or become associated with: He never had a decent job until he hooked up with this company.
  5. Informal.to have casual sex or a romantic date without a long-term commitment: He doesn't know her very well, but he hooked up with her a couple of times.

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


[hoo k]

verb (used without object)

Slang. to work as a prostitute.

Origin of hook

back formation from hooker1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hooks

Contemporary Examples of hooks

Historical Examples of hooks

British Dictionary definitions for hooks



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 hooks



Old English hoc "hook, angle," perhaps related to Old English haca "bolt," from Proto-Germanic *hokaz/*hakan- (cf. Old Frisian hok, Middle Dutch hoek, Dutch haak, German Haken "hook"), from PIE *keg- "hook, tooth" (cf. Russian kogot "claw"). For spelling, see hood (n.1).

Boxing sense of "short, swinging blow with the elbow bent" is from 1898. Figurative sense was in Middle English (see hooker). By hook or by crook (late 14c.) probably alludes to tools of professional thieves. Hook, line, and sinker "completely" is 1838, a metaphor from angling.



"to bend like a hook," c.1200; see hook (n.). Meaning "to catch (a fish) with a hook" is from c.1300. Related: Hooked; hooking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hooks


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.