give (one) the sack(redirected from given them the 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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
sack, to get/give the
To be fired or dismissed from work; to fire someone. This slangy expression dates from the seventeenth century or even earlier, probably originating in France. In those days workmen provided their own tools and carried them in a bag—sac in French—which they took away with them upon leaving. The term appears in Randle Cotgrave’s dictionary of 1611, under sac (“On luy a donné son sac—said of a servant whom his master hath put away”), and a similar term was used in Dutch as well. A newer synonym is to get/give the ax, which dates from the second half of the 1800s and alludes to the executioner’s ax. Both expressions also have been reduced to verbs meaning “to fire”: to sack someone (“I got sacked this morning”), or to ax someone/something (“The board axed the proposal for a new school building”).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer