Throw My Hat in the Ring – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you seen the phrase ‘throw my hat in the ring’ and would like to know more about the meaning or context of the saying? The phrase is a common saying in the English language, though it does not always translate well into other languages. This post unpacks the meaning, origin and use of the saying.

Meaning

The saying ‘throw my hat in the ring’ is a common saying in the English language that is used to indicate that someone is entering a contest, competition or battle of some kind.

The phrase is usually figurative, and the ‘ring’ that the sentence refers to implies the conflict or contest that is being talked about.

Context of the phrase is usually clear from what is being said, or outright stated, as part of the rest of the discussion.

The phrase is common when used as a self-reference, although the phrase ‘[to] throw your hat in the ring’ can also sometimes be used in context.

The phrase ‘to not throw your hat in the ring’ can also be used to deny that someone is ready for a challenge, conflict or competition.

The opposite of the phrase ‘to throw your hat in the ring’ is to ‘throw in the towel’ which instead means that someone is giving up or surrendering the competition.

A similar phrase is to ‘put your name in the hat’ to mean that someone signals willing participation.

Example Usage

“I didn’t know they were having a trading card tournament at the mall tomorrow, but I’m going to throw my hat in the ring for this one.”

“If you throw your hat in the ring now, then maybe you can still take home that cash prize. It’s better than trying to win the lottery and knowing that you probably won’t.”
“If you don’t throw your hat in the ring, then you’re never going to know if you could have won something at that football game. It will bother you forever.”

“Throw your hat in the ring and get it over with. Where’s that old competitive spirit?”

Origin

The origin of the phrase ‘throw my hat in the ring’ is agreed by most online language resources to come from the sport of boxing, where the crowd could throw their hats in the ring to signal that they wanted to be the next competitor in the ring.

The opposite of the phrase is to ‘throw in the towel’, which means instead to give up on something instead of to be willing to compete.

The phrase has been in common use since at least the 19th century, with a peak when boxing was at its most popular.

While the custom of throwing a hat in the ring faded away in the sport, the expression remained popular and it is still used as a modern phrase with much the same figurative meaning as it used to have.

Modern use of the phrase can refer to any competition or challenge.

Phrases Similar to Throw My Hat in the Ring

  • Put my name in the hat

Phrases Opposite to Throw My Hat in the Ring

  • Throw in the towel

What is the Correct Saying?

  • [To] throw my hat in the ring
  • Throw my hat in the ring

Ways People May Say Throw My Hat in the Ring Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone can use the saying ‘throw my hat in the ring’ in the wrong way, or misunderstand the meaning of the saying when it is used.

When someone says ‘throw my hat in the ring’ or ‘throw their hat in the ring’, the phrase implies willingness to compete or competitive spirit.

The phrase can confuse when translated directly into languages that have no equivalent phrase, since it originates from English.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Throw My Hat in the Ring

The correct way to use the phrase ‘throw my hat in the ring’ is to use the saying to mean that someone is ready to compete, either in direct reference to someone or about someone else.

Sometimes the phrase can be used as a self-reference, or to deny that someone is ready to ‘throw their hat in the ring’ as the opposite meaning of the regular saying.

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