What does the idiom "get the sack" mean?

The phrase get the sack is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of get the sack.

Meaning of "get the sack"


The phrase 'get the sack' is an informal English idiom which refers to the situation where an employee is fired from their job. It can also be used to refer to a situation where an individual is dismissed, or forced to leave, from any kind of role or responsibility.


This idiom appears to have originated in the late 19th century, originally as 'get the sack from', referring to the act of being dismissed from a job. The 'sack' in this phrase is thought to relate to being 'sacked' from a job, and the act of being 'thrown out of a job'. The use of the phrase with this meaning is first recorded in 1885, in the US newspaper 'The Inter Ocean', where it is written 'to get the sack from their positions'.


The phrase 'get the sack' is used as an idiom to mean to be fired or dismissed from a job, or any kind of role or responsibility. This phrase is most often used as a way of referring to someone else's dismissal, as opposed to referring to one's own. When talking about one's own dismissal, the phrase 'get fired' is more often used.

Example Sentences

  • My colleague was caught stealing from the company, so he got the sack.
  • She was responsible for the project failing, so she got the sack.
  • I was worried that I'd get the sack if I made any more mistakes.

The meanings of the words in the "get the sack" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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