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cat in the sack

A ruse, swindle, or suspicious transaction. In English, the more common phrase is "(to buy a) pig in the poke" (a "poke" being an older word for a bag or sack), meaning to buy something without verifying its contents or value first; the "cat in the sack" (a phrase more common to other European languages) refers to an item of lesser quality or value that has been substituted in its place. This is also the basis for the phrase "the cat's out of the bag" (and iterations thereof), meaning the swindle or secret has been exposed. I thought I was getting a great deal buying my car from that online seller, but as soon as I drove it home, I realized I'd bought a cat in the sack.
See also: cat, sack

give (one) the sack

To fire someone from a job or task. The new secretary is so rude—I need to give her the sack. I tried so hard to do a good job in Mrs. Smith's garden, but she gave me the sack anyway.
See also: give, sack

can't carry a tune

 and cannot carry a tune; can't carry a tune in a bushel basket; can't carry a tune in a bucket; can't carry a tune in a paper sack
Fig. [to be] unable to sing a simple melody; lacking musical ability. I wish that Tom wouldn't try to sing. He can't carry a tune. I don't know why Mary's in the choir. She can't carry a tune in a bushel basket. Joe likes to sing in the shower, though he can't carry a tune in a bucket. I'd try to hum the song for you, but I can't carry a tune in a paper sack.
See also: carry, tune

An empty sack cannot stand upright.

Prov. A poor or hungry person cannot function properly. Sit down and have something to eat before you go back to work. An empty sack can't stand upright.
See also: cannot, empty, sack, stand, upright

hit the hay

 and hit the sack
Fig. to go to bed. I have to go home and hit the hay pretty soon. Let's hit the sack. We have to get an early start in the morning.
See also: hay, hit

nut up

Sl. to go crazy. (See also crack up.) I knew I would nut up if I didn't quit that job. I almost nutted up at the last place I worked.
See also: nut, up

*sack

 and *ax
dismissal from one's employment. (*Typically: get ~; give someone ~.) Poor Tom got the sack today. He's always late. I was afraid that Sally was going to get the ax.

sack out

to go to bed or go to sleep. It's time for me to sack out. Let's sack out early tonight.
See also: out, sack

sack something up

to put something into bags or sacks. Please sack the groceries up and put them in the cart. I will sack up your groceries.
See also: sack, up

sacked out

asleep. Mary is sacked out in her room. Here it is ten o'clock, and you are still sacked out!
See also: out, sack

get the ax

to be forced to give up your job Which employees are most likely to get the ax when the company downsizes?
Related vocabulary: get the boot
See also: ax, get

hit the hay

to get into bed hit the sack It was time to hit the hay and drift off to sleep.
See also: hay, hit

hit the sack

to get into bed hit the hay When I hit the sack, I read for a few minutes, then turn out the light.
See also: hit, sack

sack out

to go to sleep You can bring your sleeping bags and sack out on the living room floor.
See also: out, sack

hit the sack

  (British, American & Australian informal) also hit the hay (American informal)
to go to bed I'm going to hit the sack - I'm exhausted.
See also: hit, sack

get the sack

to be told to leave your job He got the sack when they found out that he'd lied about his qualifications.
See hit the sack
See also: get, sack

get the ax

Also, get the boot or bounce or can or heave-ho or hook or sack . Be discharged or fired, expelled, or rejected. For example, He got the ax at the end of the first week, or The manager was stunned when he got the boot himself, or We got the bounce in the first quarter, or The pitcher got the hook after one inning, or Bill finally gave his brother-in-law the sack. All but the last of these slangy expressions date from the 1870s and 1880s. They all have variations using give that mean "to fire or expel someone," as in Are they giving Ruth the ax?Get the ax alludes to the executioner's ax, and get the boot to literally booting or kicking someone out. Get the bounce alludes to being bounced out; get the can comes from the verb can, "to dismiss," perhaps alluding to being sealed in a container; get the heave-ho alludes to heave in the sense of lifting someone bodily, and get the hook is an allusion to a fishing hook. Get the sack, first recorded in 1825, probably came from French though it existed in Middle Dutch. The reference here is to a workman's sac ("bag") in which he carried his tools and which was given back to him when he was fired. Also see give someone the air.
See also: ax, get

get the sack

see under get the ax.
See also: get, sack

hit the hay

Also, hit the sack. Go to bed, as in I usually hit the hay after the eleven o'clock news, or I'm tired, let's hit the sack. The first colloquial expression dates from the early 1900s, the variant from about 1940.
See also: hay, hit

sack out

Go to sleep, go to bed, as in We sacked out about midnight. This slangy idiom is a verbal use of the noun sack, slang for "bed" since about 1940; it alludes to a sleeping bag and appears in such similar phrases as in the sack, in bed, and sack time, bedtime.
See also: out, sack

sad sack

A singularly inept person, as in Poor George is a hopeless sad sack. This term alludes to a cartoon character, Sad Sack, invented by George Baker in 1942 and representing a soldier in ill-fitting uniform who failed at whatever he tried to do. It was soon transferred to clumsily inept civilians.
See also: sack, sad

sack out

v. Slang
To sleep or go to sleep: After a long day at work, I sacked out on the couch.
See also: out, sack

fart sack

n. one’s bed. (Military. Apparently a place where one can break wind at will. Usually objectionable.) Come on! Get out of the fart sack and get moving!
See also: fart, sack

get the sack

and get the ax
tv. to be dismissed from one’s employment. Poor Tom got the sack today. He’s always late. If I miss another day, I’ll get the ax.
See also: get, sack

get the ax

verb
See also: ax, get

hit the hay

and hit the sack
tv. to go to bed. Time to go home and hit the hay! Let’s hit the sack. We have to get an early start in the morning.
See also: hay, hit

hit the sack

verb
See also: hit, sack

nut up

1. in. to go crazy; to go nuts. I’ve got to have a vacation soon, or I’m going to nut up.
2. and sack up in. get courage; to grow some balls. Come on, man! Nut up! Stand up for yourself! Sack up and let’s go win this game.
See also: nut, up

sack up

verb
See nut up
See also: sack, up

sack

1. n. a bed. I was so tired I could hardly find my sack.
2. tv. to dismiss someone from employment; to fire someone. If I do that again, they’ll sack me.
3. and the sack n. a dismissal. (Always with the in this sense.) The boss gave them all the sack.
4. tv. in football, to tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. I tried to sack him, but he was too fast.
5. n. the completion of a tackle in football. Andy made the sack on the ten-yard line.

the sack

verb
See sack
See also: sack

sack out

in. to go to bed or go to sleep. (see also sacked out.) It’s time for me to sack out.
See also: out, sack

sack rat

n. someone who spends a lot of time in bed; someone who does not ever seem to get enough sleep. Tom is such a sack rat. He can’t seem to get enough sleep.
See also: rat, sack

sack time

1. n. a period of time spent in bed. I need more sack time than most people.
2. n. time to go to bed. Okay, gang, it’s sack time. Go home so I can get some sleep!
See also: sack, time

sacked out

mod. asleep. Here it is ten o’clock, and you are still sacked out!
See also: out, sack

sad sack

n. a sad person; a listless or depressed person. Tom always looks like such a sad sack.
See also: sack, sad
References in classic literature ?
After he had waited there some time, he sold the sack of flour for a very good price, and then he returned home at once, for he was afraid that if he stopped too late he might meet some robbers on the way.
he cried, tossing his sack to the weigher, who transferred to it four hundred dollars from the sacks of the two losers.
So saying, he slammed a sack of gold dust of the size of a bologna sausage down upon the bar.
As we rose to go, she opened her wooden chest and brought out a bag made of bed-ticking, about as long as a flour sack and half as wide, stuffed full of something.
Then I carried the sack about a hundred yards across the grass and through the willows east of the house, to a shallow lake that was five mile wide and full of rushes -- and ducks too, you might say, in the season.
retorted the offended Friar; ``it was you and your gormandizing companions that drank up the sack, and called it your morning draught I am a pagan, an I kept it not for the Captain's own throat.
Their parents stuffed the empty sack with three rotten vegetable marrows, an old blacking-brush and two decayed turnips.
The door opened, and a dim light reached Dantes' eyes through the coarse sack that covered him; he saw two shadows approach his bed, a third remaining at the door with a torch in its hand.
Quick--let us see what it all is, and how much gold and silver there is in the sack he gave him.
Would, by Father Jove, Minerva, and Apollo, that I had among them ten more such councillors, for the city of King Priam would then soon fall beneath our hands, and we should sack it.
It was a very angular and very lively little mass, imprisoned in its linen sack, stamped with the cipher of Messire Guillaume Chartier, then bishop of Paris, with a head projecting.
He sat nigh the Sheriff at meat, and he ran beside his horse when he went a-hunting; so that, what with hunting and hawking a little, and eating rich dishes and drinking good sack, and sleeping until late hours in the morning, he grew as fat as a stall-fed ox.
At least I am, and nearly twenty years had elapsed, and here was I burdened under a load of affection, like a sack of returned love-letters, with no lap into which to dump them.
Yes," said the Horse; "if any remains out of what I am now eating I will give it you for the sake of my own superior dignity, and if you will come when I reach my own stall in the evening, I will give you a little sack full of barley.
I made an estimate of the sack, and I - ah - should say it weighed about twenty pounds.