The phrase I’ll eat my hat is an idiom that expresses how a person feels almost sure of something. In other words, when someone feels confident in a specific outcome, they might use sayings like this to express that.
The Origin Of “I’ll Eat My Hat”
Why You Shouldn’t Eat a Hat
Speaking in a literal sense, would you really want to eat a hat? Considering they are often made from materials such as cotton, wool, or leather—none of which sound appetizing—I would say definitely not. Moreover, consuming a hat can be dangerous due to the chemicals used in making it.
For instance, many hats are made from leather, a material that goes through a tanning process where various chemicals are used to help strengthen it. While these chemicals do their job of increasing the leather’s durability, they are not something you would want inside of your body. If that’s not enough, chewing on tough leather sounds awful for one’s jaw, and it probably tastes terrible too. In summary, don’t eat your hat!
So how old is the phrase “I’ll eat my hat,” anyway? This expression makes an early appearance in several newspapers from the later half of the 19th century. For example, in the Iowa South West newspaper, 1876:
“‘If you are not Joe Kirby,’ he said, ‘I will eat my hat-I mean, of course-‘
Come, this is trifling. I say that you mistook me for some one else. What makes you think me Joe Kirby?’
‘Because you are.’ “
Thus this expression is at least over 140 years old.
Here are two examples of this phrase used in a sentence:
- Susan is going to the dentist tomorrow. I know that she takes good care of her teeth, so I’ll eat my hat if she has a cavity!
- I challenged the fastest runner at school to a race. While my friends hope I win, they also said they will eat their hats if I manage to do so.