Meriam-Webster has a page for "hats off to" to indicate praise and uses the example "Hats off to Susan for doing such a great job".

I'm surprised that it's not "Hat's off to" as in "Hat is off to". Without the apostrophe it looks like there are multiple hats.

What's the explanation for the expression being without an apostrophe?

1 Answer 1


It's "hats" because it's implied that there are multiple hats involved.

Hats off to Susan for doing such a great job.

This is an invitation for everyone (except Susan) to take their (figurative) hats off to congratulate Susan on her hard work.

  • 3
    It's not so much an invitation, so much as an instruction, in the same way as servicemen are given the order "Hats off" when entering a church.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 9:28
  • Would you say that it's always an instruction or can it be an invitation depending on the context? Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 9:30
  • @HansKilian It's very much dependent on context, especially where the speaker might not have any authority to instruct the other people in the audience. If the speaker is the boss then it could be an instruction, if they're just a co-worker it's probably a suggestion/invitation. Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 9:34
  • @HansKilian - 99% of the times I've heard this expression it wasn't an instruction or an invitation, nobody present was wearing a hat anyway, it was just a metaphorical way of saying "congratulations" or "well done".
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 9:48
  • @nnnnnn That's also the way I've interpreted which is why I thought it was "(my) hat is off to you". But then it would have the apostrophe. Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 10:02

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