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    #1

    catch on the hop

    Hello,

    Would someone be able to shed some light on the origins of the idiomatic expression "to catch on the hop"? Is it a sporting metaphor?

    Many thanks,

    Diafana

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    #2

    Re: catch on the hop

    I don't think it's an idiom. The only use I can think of it is quite literal, from the sport of baseball.

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    #3

    Re: catch on the hop

    Thanks for your input but it is actually an idiom in BrE:

    catch somebody on the hop
    if you catch someone on the hop, you do something when they are not ready for it and may not be able to deal with it.
    Examples: Well I'm afraid you've caught me on the hop - I wasn't expecting your call until this afternoon. If we attack at the very start of the game, we may just catch their defenders on the hop.

    (source: Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed.)

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: catch on the hop

    Scroll down here American idioms - [Idiom] Learn American idioms and you'll find one explanation. I don't know how reliable it is.

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    #5

    Re: catch on the hop

    I have never heard of it. Not a lot of people going out to pick wild hops these days.

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    #6

    Re: catch on the hop

    Thank you very much for your help, 5jj, much appreciated!

    Diafana

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: catch on the hop

    As Diafana said, 'catch somebody on the hop' is an idiom in BrE. I am not at all sure about the origin suggested in the link I gave. It sounds a bit like folk etymology to me, but I haven't been able to find anything more convincing.

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    #8

    Re: catch on the hop

    The only reasoning I can come up with for it is that when you have both feet planted on the ground, you are balanced and even and ready to move in any direction.

    If you are hopping, you are off-balance (probably), not completely connected to the ground and therefore can be caught off-guard.

    It also makes me think of the phrase "to catch somebody on the back foot" which has much the same meaning, to catch them (metaphorically) off-balance or by surprise.

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: catch on the hop

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    If you are hopping, you are off-balance (probably), not completely connected to the ground and therefore can be caught off-guard.
    That sounds more likely to me than the Kentish hop-field tale. But that's only my feeling.

    ps, The OED gives examples of 'catch/take on the hop' under the 'act of hopping' (jumping on one leg) definition of the noun.
    Last edited by 5jj; 01-Dec-2011 at 23:28. Reason: ps added.

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    #10

    Re: catch on the hop

    Thanks a lot, emsr2d2, your explanation sounds very plausible to me.

    Diafana

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