"Play hooky" is a colloquial phrase that means to deliberately avoid going to school, work, or an obligation, typically without permission or a legitimate reason. It's often used in a light-hearted or casual context, suggesting a small act of rebellion or a break from routine rather than something serious or harmful. For example, a student might "play hooky" to skip a day of school and spend the day at the park or with friends.
"Play hooky" refers to skipping school or work without a valid reason, often to do something more enjoyable.
The phrase "play hooky" is a playful way to talk about avoiding responsibilities, especially school or work, without permission. It's like taking a secret mini-vacation when you're supposed to be somewhere else. This phrase has a mischievous ring to it, but it's usually not about serious rule-breaking.
The phrase “play hooky” is an Americanism that arose in the late 19th century, when compulsory attendance laws became the rule in public schools. The term “hooky” is believed to have originated from the 14th-century Dutch game ‘hoekje,’ which is known in American culture as 'hide and go seek. Another theory suggests that “to play hooky” may also be a variation of the older expression ‘hook it,’ meaning ‘to escape or make off. Or it could be related to the old slang word ‘hook,’ meaning ‘to steal,’ with kids stealing a day off from school.
The first recorded use of the phrase was in 1842 in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
"When I was a child, I thought as a child… hunted birds’ nests, played hooky, and chased butterflies…"
Let's dive into some everyday scenarios where you might hear or use "play hooky":
This phrase often pops up in movies and shows, especially when characters are looking for a fun escape from their daily routines.
Here are some notable mentions:
Here are some other phrases with a similar meaning:
It refers to skipping school or work without a valid reason.
It possibly derives from the Dutch word "hoekje," meaning "hide and seek."
It can be, depending on the context. Regularly playing hooky can have consequences.
Yes, adults can also skip work or other responsibilities, though it's often termed differently.
Yes, many movies, songs, and TV shows reference the act of playing hooky.
"She decided to play hooky and take a spontaneous vacation."
In many places, truancy laws can lead to penalties for students and sometimes parents.
No, its origins trace back to at least the 19th century.
It can, but it's more informal. In professional settings, terms like "taking a personal day" might be more appropriate.
Not necessarily. Someone might play hooky due to stress, personal issues, or other reasons.
The phrase refers to deliberately avoiding one's duties or responsibilities, especially skipping school or work without permission. It's a colloquial expression often used in a light-hearted or humorous context.