Definition of hook in English:

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Pronunciation: /hʊk/


1A piece of metal or other hard material curved or bent back at an angle, for catching hold of or hanging things on: a picture hook
More example sentences
  • My grandpa had the most impressive collection of picture hooks and picture hanging implements that I have ever seen.
  • Earlier in the trial, a fire investigation officer told the court the fire spread rapidly through the flat as it took hold of clothing hanging on hooks behind a door where it started.
  • There was a wonderful ice-cold larder with big hooks for hanging game.
peg, holder
fastener, fastening, catch, clasp, hasp, clip, pin, buckle, hook and eye;
Archaeology  fibula
1.1 (also fish hook) A bent piece of metal, typically barbed and baited, for catching fish.
Example sentences
  • The 46-year old captain was stabbed several times in the chest and head with a fish hook, the Star said.
  • A guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat, a 4x4 truck and a tent?
  • He took out a vicious-looking fish hook from behind his back.
fish hook, barb, snare, trap
2A thing designed to catch people’s attention: companies are looking for a sales hook
More example sentences
  • A good trailer is a hook, designed to leave you irresistibly compelled to come back one more time.
  • They only added that feature a few months ago, and have suddenly decided that's their hook to get attention.
  • The hook that caught him was the girl's attitude.
2.1A catchy chorus or repeated instrumental passage in a piece of popular music: strong, funky vocals with a hook that gets into your head
More example sentences
  • The foot-tapping Hamoa Beach, meanwhile, is simply a great listen, featuring some more tremendous hooks and another catchy chorus.
  • He certainly is an amazing pop songwriter, dropping catchy hooks and tasteful riffs left and right.
  • The label immediately seized upon their talent for blending edgy, high-pitched vocals with catchy guitar hooks, as epitomised by Float On.
3A curved cutting instrument, especially as used for reaping or shearing.
Example sentences
  • He arranged two lines of men with flails, clubs, pitchforks, sickles, and reaping hooks.
  • In summer for the wheat harvest, everybody was given a reaping hook to work in the fields.
  • The gang attacked him in the doorway of the hotel where he was working, armed with slash hooks and hammers after hearing his English accent.
billhook, scythe, sickle
4A short swinging punch made with the elbow bent and rigid, especially in boxing: a perfectly timed right hook to the chin
More example sentences
  • By the end of the round Ellis is pinned against the ropes and Frazier is landing body shots and short hooks to the head.
  • He had a good long hard jab, his left hook and left uppercut were devastating punches.
  • Mike's favorite punch is the right hook and my favorite punch is his left hook, so we disagree in what his best shot is.
punch, blow, hit, box, cuff, thump, smack, crack, knock, thwack;
Scottish & Northern English  skelp
informal belt, bop, biff, sock, clout, whack, wallop, plug, slug, whop
British informal slosh, dot
North American informal boff
Australian/New Zealand informal dong
4.1 Cricket A stroke made to the on side with a horizontal or slightly upward swing of the bat at shoulder height.
Example sentences
  • First Flintoff continues his Botham impression with another hook for six, then guides one down to the vacant third-man boundary, and lastly lets fly square of the wicket.
  • Runs started to flow as Jaques top-edged a hook at Harris for six and drove him for four through extra cover.
  • He is strong off the back, utilising hooks and cuts to great effect.
4.2 Golf A stroke which makes the ball deviate in flight in the direction of the follow-through (from right to left for a right-handed player), typically inadvertently.
Example sentences
  • Nobody has trouble putting sidespin on the ball - that's what produces hooks and slices.
  • The wind heightens any spin on the ball, and accentuates a slice or a hook.
  • Too often players subconsciously misalign their shoulders to compensate for their usual hook or slice.
5A curved stroke in handwriting.
Example sentences
  • Kurtz notes, ‘The small hooks at the end of the "t" and the "i" indicate a writer who is tenacious, holds on to beliefs, doctrines, ideals.’
  • Place the pen on the paper, pull up then straight down, then make a small hook.
5.1 Music An added stroke transverse to the stem in the symbol for a quaver or other note.
Example sentences
  • Any note shorter than a quarter note has one or more hooks to indicate its length.
6 [usually in place names] A curved promontory or sand spit.
Example sentences
  • The United States owned the entire promontory of Sandy Hook.


1 [with object and adverbial] Attach or fasten with a hook or hooks: the truck had a red lamp hooked to its tailgate she tried to hook up her bra [no object]: a ladder that hooks over the roof ridge
More example sentences
  • She had just finished hooking the last clasp when Loretta turned to her holding up a delicate silver chain and smiling triumphantly.
  • Michelle carefully hooked the clasp and turned Dylan to face her.
  • He fires a grappling hook that hooks itself onto the balustrade of the rooftop garden.
attach, fix, hitch, fasten, secure, clasp
archaic hasp, grapple
1.1Bend into the shape of a hook so as to fasten around or to an object: [with object]: he hooked his thumbs in his belt she hooked a thread around her crochet hook [no object]: her legs hooked around mine
More example sentences
  • Isabella hooked her arm through mine and dragged me in.
  • I hooked his arm in mine and laid my head on his shoulder.
  • He hooked his arm in mine and slowly led me to the dining room.
curl, bend, crook, loop, angle, curve
1.2 [with object] Rugby Secure (the ball) and pass it backwards with the foot in the scrum.
Example sentences
  • This is done by hooking the ball with the soft swinging motion of one of the feet as the teams 8-man scrum pack pushes forward to give the hooker more room to hook the ball.
  • At this point, the hookers both attempt to hook the ball back to their teammates.
  • You can only hook the ball back with your feet.
2 [with object] Catch with a hook: he hooked a 24 lb pike
More example sentences
  • Proud of a nice catch, Myrtle McDonald hooked this fish in the Chapman River.
  • I went for another half an hour before hooking my third rainbow making me the only angler to land three fish.
  • Beware though: hooking the prize catch is one thing, securing it in your keepnet another.
catch, take, land, net, bag, snare, ensnare, trap, entrap
2.1 informal Attract and hold the attention of; captivate: I was hooked by John’s radical zeal
More example sentences
  • If they can capture our attention now, they have hooked us for future years and we are far more likely to buy from their site advertisers.
  • One inconsequential little jamless doughnut sets in chain a ripple of growing anger that hooks the attention of our entire nation.
  • What was it about that cheetah that hooked his attention so?
2.2 archaic, informal Steal: a maid hooked one of her mistress’s dresses
3 [with object] Cricket Hit (the ball) round to the on side with a horizontal or slightly upward swing of the bat at shoulder height; hit a ball delivered by (the bowler) with such a stroke.
Example sentences
  • When he hooks a ball over square-leg it is with the cheek associated with schoolboys.
  • In the same over that he brought up his fifty, he hooked the last ball to the square-leg boundary, where its sheer vigour caused Chris Adams to palm a fairly easy catch over the boundary for six.
  • Undaunted, the admirable Michael Vaughan hooked a rare Glenn McGrath no-ball for six.
3.1 Golf Strike (the ball) so that it deviates in the direction of the follow-through, typically inadvertently.
Example sentences
  • To draw or hook a golf ball, you must have fast hands.
  • He shouldn't overdo it, though: The flatter the backswing, the easier it is to hook the ball.
  • If you're slicing or hooking the ball, the divot hole can point the way to a cure.
3.2 [no object] Boxing Punch one’s opponent with the elbow bent and rigid: McKenzie switched his attack downstairs, hooking to the ribs
More example sentences
  • From round 3 on, it was all Shields as he would hook, and uppercut his way to victory.
4 (often in imperative hook it) British informal, dated Run away: kindly hook it—I just want you to scram
More example sentences
  • She began to, but I can't stand women when they cry, so I said she'd better hook it.
  • After we had been on the bridge a bit, we got shooed off by a benevolent old retainer who said "Now you've had a nice look now!" and explained the boss would be down in a bit, so we'd better hook it. So we did.
  • ‘When you gave me the shilling,’ cried Dan, ‘he followed me into the yard, and told me to hook it.’
5 [no object] (usually as noun hooking) informal (Of a woman) work as a prostitute.



by hook or by crook

By any possible means: the government intends, by hook or by crook, to hold on to the land
More example sentences
  • Sometimes, it takes years and years to finally get it done, but by never backing down, by never giving up, they get these films to the screen by hook or by crook.
  • A driving-school trainer said that people want a licence by hook or by crook, without mastering the basics of driving a vehicle.
  • Reality has to be kept at a distance by hook or by crook.
by any means, by any means whatsoever, somehow, somehow or other, no matter how, in one way or another, by fair means or foul

get one's hooks into

informal Get hold of: they were going to move out rather than let Mel get his hooks into them
More example sentences
  • It is something that you can get your hooks into.
  • The implication is that a woman's sole goal in life is to ‘get her hooks into’ a man.
  • The only regret is not having got my hooks into this fascinating collection sooner, considering it was first published in 1995.

get (or give someone) the hook

North American informal Be dismissed (or dismiss someone) from a job: he got the hook, reportedly due to differences with his co-star
More example sentences
  • The crowd loved it, but the soundman gave us the hook after only 15 minutes.
  • She was the cause of all my boyfriends giving me the hook because after they saw her, they could never be fully in love with me.
  • The PM, all the while insisting the minister hadn't done anything wrong, gave him the hook.

hook, line, and sinker

Used to emphasize that someone has been completely deceived or tricked: he fell hook, line, and sinker for this year’s April Fool joke
With allusion to the taking of bait by a fish
More example sentences
  • Mr Peters has fallen for that, hook, line, and sinker.
  • What is a good deal more disturbing is that U.S. and international media outlets consistently swallowed the opposition's unlikely claims of certain victory hook, line, and sinker.
  • I think that she fell prey to someone much more powerful and more cunning than she was and believed everything he said hook, line, and sinker, and she's a victim of crime, the way I see it.
completely, totally, utterly, entirely, absolutely, thoroughly, wholly, through and through, one hundred per cent, {lock, stock, and barrel}

off the hook

1 informal No longer in difficulty or trouble: I lied to get him off the hook
More example sentences
  • She let him off the hook since that also meant letting herself off the hook.
  • Some criticise this as letting property owners off the hook.
  • I don't think he's off the hook at all, because either he was misled or he deliberately lied.
out of trouble, free, in the clear, under no obligation;
acquitted, cleared, reprieved, exonerated, absolved, vindicated, found not guilty
informal let off
2(Of a telephone receiver) not on its rest, and so preventing incoming calls.
Example sentences
  • She tosses her shoes at the telephone when it rings, hoping to knock the receiver off the hook.
  • When the maid found her body, she noticed the telephone was off the hook.
  • He took the telephone off the hook, placed cushions on the floor, locked the door, drew the blinds and asked her to lie down.

on the hook for

North American informal (In a financial context) responsible for: he’s on the hook for about $9.5 million
More example sentences
  • But it goes even further, because the financial institutions are only on the hook for reported thefts.
  • The answer will determine whether his insurers are on the hook for $3.5 billion for one event, or $7 billion for two.
  • And the school board is on the hook for more than $740,000 while the state investigates ‘serious allegations’ about a misallocation of money.

on one's own hook

North American informal, dated By oneself: I’m thinking of starting a class on my own hook
More example sentences
  • We might encapsulate these promises as ‘functionality’ and ‘freedom’ - the system will work for you if you work for it, and if you can get ahead on your own hook, God bless you.
  • Older pickpockets, incapacitated for work on their own hook, instructed the younger charges, reducing the subject to a science.
  • Count William of Nevers had in the meantime set out into Asia Minor on his own hook.

sling one's hook

[usually in imperative] British informal Leave; go away.
Example sentences
  • The chorus tells us that the snotty girl tells the boy to sling his hook, because he isn't good enough for her.
  • If they or one of their family members ever needs to use the hospice, they should be told to sling their hook.
  • Our future is very much up in the air as they may well come back to us and tell us to sling our hook.

Phrasal verbs

hook up

1 (also hook someone/thing up) Link or be linked to electronic equipment: [with object]: Ali was hooked up to an electrocardiograph
More example sentences
  • There is also a links page, which hooks you up to a number of rare book sites and other author sites.
  • This is the process where your computer or server tries to make a network connection via internet protocol, a common way of hooking this equipment up.
  • She warned us in a well rehearsed sinister tone that we should not be alarmed by the medical equipment Fay had been hooked up to.
2 informal (Of two people) meet or form a relationship: he hooked up with a friend in Budapest
More example sentences
  • Within days, you'll be able to find photos, download songs and hook up with friends you met at the show.
  • He apparently has no problem meeting people and hooking up with people, yet he says that as soon as you're back in town he wants to settle down and be with you and never be with another girl.
  • I've been in two long serious relationships, and hooking up with handsome slightly drunk rich kids was exactly what the doctor ordered.
2.1Engage in or form a casual sexual relationship: hooking up with total strangers can be very dangerous
More example sentences
  • She was not about to help her creepy ex-boyfriend hook up with a girl two years too young for him.
  • Whether in Venice or Hamburg, they have always hooked up - turning a mere journey into an " erotic pursuit ".
  • I didn't feel guilty, or satisfied that I'd finally hooked up with my dream girl.



Example sentences
  • Otherwise all of us would be using hookless flies and not one angler in 10,000 does.
  • The warm summer sun shone down on Abby as she cast her line into the bay, and settled into a gentle casting rhythm that drove fish wild to jump at her hookless fly.
  • She was sober, and had quite forgotten the fish that were still occasionally tugging at her hookless fly.


Example sentences
  • Some of its long feathers had barbules and hooklets that bound together a feather's barbs and gave the feather greater strength, flexibility and surface area.
  • Examine the amazing close-up of the barbules of a feather showing the tiny hooklets and grooves.
  • The hooklets, which have been often mentioned, are quite elaborate, and they are in fact one of many kinds of projections.


Example sentences
  • He needed 19 stitches to the wound to his face, and had a deep cut to the back of the head which was caused by a screwdriver and a punctured muscle in his arm from a hook-like gardening tool.
  • Clinging to his palm with hook-like feet was one of these bizarre little lizards, its eyes rotating independently.
  • Hookworms are small parasitic worms, with hook-like appendages on their mouths, that feed off the wall of the small intestine and can cause severe damage.


Old English hōc, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hoek 'corner, angle, projecting piece of land', also to German Haken 'hook'.

  • Hooks have many uses: for catching hold of things, for hanging things on, for controlling sheep, for carrying bait, and others. The angler's hook features in hook, line and sinker, used to emphasize that someone has been completely deceived or tricked. The items all form part of fishing tackle, where a sinker is a weight used to sink the fishing line in the water. The image behind the expression is of a hungry fish deceived by the bait into gulping everything down. The expression off the hook, ‘no longer in trouble or difficulty’, is almost the opposite: the idea here is of a fish managing to wriggle off the hook that lodged in its mouth when it took the bait.

    The type of hook referred to in by hook or by crook, ‘by any possible means’, is not certain. The expression goes back to the 14th century and probably comes from farming, with the crook being a shepherd's hooked staff and the hook a ‘billhook’, a heavy curved pruning knife. How these implements might have been used together comes from the writer and political reformer William Cobbett, who in 1822 described an ancient English forest law. According to this, people living near woodland were allowed to gather dead tree branches for fuel, using the hook to cut them off or the crook to pull them down. To play hookey, or play truant, is a 19th-century US expression. It probably comes from hook off or hook it, meaning ‘to go away’.

Words that rhyme with hook

betook, book, brook, Brooke, Chinook, chook, Coke, cook, Cooke, crook, forsook, Gluck, look, mistook, nook, partook, rook, schnook, schtuck, Shilluk, shook, Tobruk, took, undercook, undertook

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: hook

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