Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hang up one’s... v.

[image of hanging up on a peg the item required for the job]

used in a variety of phrs., usu. linked to the occupation in question, meaning to retire; thus fig. to die.

[UK]Indep. Rev. 18 May 6: I heard he had ‘finally hung up his coconuts’ in Western Samoa.
[UK]M. Manning Get Your Cock Out 51: [of a rock star] He was never going to be able to hang up his leather strides.

In phrases

hang up one’s boots (v.) [hang up one’s... v.]

to die.

[UK]A. Payne ‘Get Daley!’ Minder [TV script] 36: Well, your general anaesthetic, that goes wrong, you might as well hang up your boots.
hang up one’s fiddle (v.) (US)

1. to stop what one is doing.

[US]S. Smith Major Downing (1834) 84: If this don’t carry it, you’ll have to hang up your fiddle till another year.
[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms 136: to hang up one’s fiddle, is to desist from any labor or project; a metaphor derived from a musician, who, when he ceases playing, is supposed to hang up his fiddle.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 464: The old fellow was very popular among the play-going portion of the community, and whenever his game fell off for want of patrons, all the rest in the city might hang up the fiddle.
[US]J. Harrison ‘Negro English’ in Anglia VII 274: To hang up de fiddle en’ de bow = to cease from, to die.
[Ire]S. Beckett Murphy (1963) 62: My liver dried up [...] so I had to hang up my lyre.

2. to retire.

[UK]C. Reade Hard Cash I 287: I swan to man I may just hang up my fiddle.

3. to die.

see def. 1.
hang up one’s gloves (v.) (also hang up the gloves) [orig. prize-fighting jargon] (US)

1. to retire from one’s profession; ad hoc vars. occur (see cit. 2000).

[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 35: ‘Man, I know you. You’re gonna rip off everything in town.’ ‘No, I’m hanging up the gloves.’.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 14 May 6: After his Hamlet at the RSC, he thought it was time to ‘hang up the tights’.

2. to give up.

[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 774: He was through. Studs Lonigan, hang up your glove.

3. to die.

[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 58: I ain’t hardly ready to get dead [...] The Big Spook ain’t ready to hang up his gloves yet.
hang up one’s harness (v.) (also hang up one’s iron, ...tackle)

1. (also drop one’s harness) to retire.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Oct. 41/2: A veteran of the Inky Way [...] dropped his harness the other day after representing the Christchurch Press in the North Canterbury district for 51 years. He reckoned it was time he had a rest.

2. to die.

[US](con. 1900s) G. Swarthout Shootist 115: They must have heard I was hanging up my irons for good.
hang up one’s hat (v.)

1. to die.

[UK]N&Q X 203: He has hung up his hat. This sentence, which is sometimes used in reference to persons deceased, etc [F&H].
[US]Berrey & Van Den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl. 132: Die, hang up one’s hat.

2. to have a place to live.

[UK]Leeds Times 22 June 4/6: [from N.Y.] Advertiser [...] says: ‘A widow (thirty-seven) owning beautiful home [...] would marry soon.’ She probably will [...] for the prospect of being able to go and hang one’s hat up without the necessity of having first to buy [...] the home is calculated to bring many replies.

3. to retire.

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Down the Line 40: Hang up your hat, Buck, and gather the myrtle with Mary!
hang up one’s hat to (v.) [the image of hanging up one’s hat while making a visit to the admired one]

(Aus.) to make advances to.

[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 83: HANG UP YOUR HAT TO: that is, to make matrimonial overtures to a lady, is in common use.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 22 June 6/2: They Say [...] That now that Tommy has turned Emma down Shannon is hanging his hat up.