Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hook v.1

1. UK Und. uses, in senses of using a lit. or fig. hook.

(a) [early 17C–19C] to steal, to pilfer, esp. by cutting a hole in a shop window and ‘fishing’ for its contents with a hook on a string.

(b) [late 18C+] to steal, to rob; to pick a pocket; thus hooked adj., stolen.

2. in senses of SE hook, to ensnare.

(a) [18C+] to fool, to practise a confidence trick upon, to swindle.

(b) [early 18C+] (US) to arrest, to catch in a crime.

(c) [early 19C+] to attract, esp. into marriage.

(d) [late 19C+] to attract, to catch the eye of.

(e) [20C+] to (over)charge.

(f) [1920s+] (drugs) to make someone addicted to drugs.

(g) [1990s+] (US black) to cost.

3. (also hook it) in senses of SE hook, move with a sudden twist or turn.

(a) [mid-18C+] to run off, to escape.

(b) [mid-19C+] to go about one’s own business.

(c) [20C+] (US) to play truant.

4. in senses of grabbing or grasping.

(a) [1930s+] (US, orig. tramp) to steal a ride on a train or other vehicle, to hitchhike.

(b) [1980s+] to catch a train, a bus etc.

(c) [1980s+] (US campus) to engage in love making.

(d) [1980s+] (US black) to search for.

(e) [1990s+] (US campus) to help.

(f) [1990s+] (US drugs) to find or obtain something.

5. [1950s] (drugs) to inject narcotics.

In derivatives

hookery (n.)

the criminal world of thieving, confidence trickery etc.

In phrases

hook in (v.) (also hook into)

1. [19C+] (US) to get introduced to or put in touch with, to entice.

2. [late 19C+] to associate oneself with.

3. [20C+] (Aus./US) to get involved in.

hook it (v.)

see sense 3 above.

hook jack (v.)

[late 19C–1910s] (US) to play truant.

hook off (v.)

see separate entries.

hook one’s bait (v.) (also hook one’s mutton)

1. [1920s+] (Aus./N.Z.) to escape, to run off.

2. [2000s] (N.Z.) to dance with someone.

hook up (v.)

1. [1900s] (US) to enter into a relationship, e.g. marriage.

2. [1910s] (US) to become involved in, e.g. an argument.

3. to meet.

4. (US drugs) to establish a professional relationship with.

on the hook

1. [mid-19C–1940s] engaging in theft.

2. [1900s–40s] (US) playing truant.

3. see hooked adj.2

on the hook(s)

1. [late 19C] under control.

2. [1950s–70s] in debt to, whether actual or fig.; under the influence of.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

hook down (v.)

[1960s] to swallow, usu. in the context of drugs.

hook onto (v.)

1. [mid-19C+] to attach oneself to someone, to follow about.

2. [20C+] to discover.

hook up (with)

see separate entries.