By Hook or By Crook: Have You Ever Heard this Common Saying?

Last Updated on May 27, 2021

A common saying which you may have heard quite often is ‘by hook or by crook.’ But how do we use this term in conversation and where did it come from? Let’s take a look at the meaning behind this phrase.

By Hook or By Crook

By Hook or By Crook Meaning

The phrase ‘by hook or by crook’ means that in order to achieve a goal or aim, any means necessary will be taken. The goal must be reached no matter what it takes.

Origin of this idiom

The phrase was first written in the 1300s by a man named John Wyclif in a record called ‘Middle English controversial tracts.’ There are various ideas about where the phrase actually came from. One of these is that all those years ago, the King owned all the woodland but peasants were allowed to collect wood, anything they could remove from the trees using a billhook or a shepherds crook.

“By Hook or By Crook” Examples

You would use this term to express the dire need to complete something, for example you might tell your co-worker something along the lines of ‘We must get these documents finished by Friday morning, by hook or by crook.’

Example Sentences

  • They intend to get their way, by hook or by crook.
  • I’ll get her to marry me, by hook or by crook.
  • The police are going to get these guys, by hook or by crook.
  • By hook or by crook, football is being called to account for the years of profligacy.
  • We will get the work finished this week by hook or by crook.

Conversation Examples

The idiomatic phrase ‘by hook or by crook’ is often used in conversations, both formal and informal. Here are some examples of how it might sound when heard in a conversation.

Conversation 1:

  • Person 1: “I only have until this afternoon to get this work done.”
  • Person 2: “Take it easy, I’m sure it wouldn’t matter if you finished it tomorrow.”
  • Person 1: “No, by hook or by crook, it has to be done this afternoon.”

Conversation 2:

  • Person 1: “Are you going to that job interview today?”
  • Person 2: “Yes and I have to get that job, by hook or by crook because I am running out of money fast.”

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

If you wanted to express the meaning of ‘by hook or by crook’ in other words, you might use one of the following sayings.

  • By any means necessary
  • One way or another
  • At whatever cost
  • With all the means
  • By whatever means
  • By all means

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1 thought on “By Hook or By Crook: Have You Ever Heard this Common Saying?”

  1. Sheep don’t like to be caught; they are flock animals, not pets. Shepherds carry a crook, which is about four feet long, one end bent in a neck-sized curve. Pretty easy to catch a sheep driven within range by a sheepdog. All shepherds carry them.


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