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Is it correct to use the verb to book with the meaning of to run? I heard this usage in situations like:

The dog ran out and I booked it after him.

or

I was booking it down the hill.

I couldn't find any meaning similar to this in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary or others.

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"To book" dates from at least the 1960s: english.stackexchange.com/a/54273/9001 –  Hugo Apr 9 at 5:10
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6 Answers 6

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Book here is used informally as a verb meaning hurry or move quickly.

He didn't watch the show because he had to book it to school.

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It seems that I need to start using the Oxford Dictionaries more often! –  slybloty Apr 9 at 0:46
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It's dialectal American, and it's recent. It's most commonly used in the progressive: He was really bookin there. –  John Lawler Apr 9 at 3:10
    
If I'm not mistaken, most often, I've heard it used in phrases like, "Make like a dog with a tail between its legs, and book!" –  Panzercrisis Apr 9 at 3:59
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Urban dictionary has a good description of this usage.

It is slang, but it means to leave rapidly or run quickly.

Without proper proof, I believe the origin to be something akin to "enter the record books". Or, per Urban Dictionary it may be related to leaving a party quickly to go and study (hit the books).

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We have a question for the origin here: english.stackexchange.com/a/54273/9001 –  Hugo Apr 9 at 5:11
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I have always understood "book it!" to mean hurry-up. A few language forum postings indicate "book it!" was used in the 60s, and oft-mentioned it was either regional or American slang but "book it!" is not exclusively American

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My pet theory is that it's a bilingual play on words from the French 'Livre', for book, pronounced /livʁ/.

So: "I've got to leave" becomes "I've got to livre" becomes, "I've got to book".

Or maybe I need to go outside for a bit...

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The slang expression to book for to run at high speed might be connected with German "ausbüxen", said of young boys who run away from their parents with nobody knowing for hours where the boy is.

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I would definitely never use book like this. This Google search has a list of definitions of book, but none of them are to run. Why would you think that book could be used this way?

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The fact that plenty of people who speak English use it this way ... What makes you think that it is incorrect? –  David M Apr 9 at 0:45
    
I have heard it being used in this format, but since proper English drives me insane sometimes, I needed to find out if it is correct or just some slang. –  slybloty Apr 9 at 0:48
    
Yeah, Code Samurai, booking it means running moving hastily. It isn't used super commonly, but coo on enough you should probably know this slang expression. –  Mike Apr 9 at 1:16
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@toandfro: In AmE it is reasonable slang. no misprint at all. –  Mitch Apr 9 at 2:23
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@Mike No problem, I believe you :-) I just have never heard it myself. And in BrE I think hoofing it would almost always imply a level of haste. –  toandfro Apr 9 at 3:54
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