off the hook

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off the hook

1. Pardoned, vindicated, released; allowed or able to avoid blame, responsibility, obligation, or difficulty. At first, Sam was suspected of stealing money from the safe, but he was let off the hook after security camera footage showed it was someone else. A: "I thought you had that big work event tonight." B: "No, it got canceled, so I'm off the hook."
2. Of a telephone receiver, not positioned on the cradle (typically resulting in a busy signal and the inability to receive calls). That's why you couldn't get through to Grandma's house before—her phone was off the hook.
3. slang Very enjoyable or appealing. That band's new song is really off the hook!
See also: hook, off
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*off the hook

Fig. freed from an obligation. (Alludes to a fish freeing itself from a fishhook. *Typically: be ~; get ~; get someone ~; let someone ~.) Thanks for getting me off the hook. I didn't want to attend that meeting. I couldn't get myself off the hook no matter what I tried.
See also: hook, off
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

off the hook

Also, get or let off the hook . Released (or be released) from blame or annoying obligation, as in He was out of town during the robbery so he was off the book, or I don't know how the muggers got off the hook, or Once they found the real culprit, they let Mary off the hook. This idiom alludes to the fish that manages to free itself from the angler's hook and get away. [Mid-1800s]
See also: hook, off
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

off the hook

1 no longer in trouble or difficulty. informal 2 (of a telephone receiver) not on its rest, and so not receiving incoming calls.
Hook in sense 1 is a long-standing (mid 15th-century) figurative use of the word to mean ‘something by which a person is caught and trapped’, as a fish hook catches a fish. Sense 2 is a fossilized expression from the late 19th century, the early years of telephony, when the receiver literally hung on a hook.
See also: hook, off
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

off the ˈhook

if you leave or take the telephone off the hook, you take the receiver (= the part that you pick up) off the place where it usually rests, so that nobody can call you: So many people were calling me that in the end I got tired of it and left the phone off the hook.
See also: hook, off
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

off the hook

1. mod. no longer in jeopardy; no longer obligated. I’ll let you off the hook this time, but never again.
2. mod. crazy. (Referring to the telephone—disconnected.) She’s so ditzy—really off the hook.
See also: hook, off
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

off the hook

Informal
Freed, as from blame or a vexatious obligation: let me off the hook with a mild reprimand.
See also: hook, off
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Mexico City, meanwhile, hired iron-fisted ex-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to combat off-the-hook lawlessness in the capital, where kidnapping has turned into an industry.
And the impending total convergence of Internet-based voice, data, and video communications will only enhance the accessibility factor rendering time alone and off-the-hook to a pastime of bygone days.