Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hot foot n.

1. (orig. US) speedy action, a quick movement or journey; as phr. do a hot foot, on the hot foot [hot foot v.].

[US]Congressional Globe 15 Jan. 389/3: The honorable Senator [...] admonished us of the importance of hot-foot in this business [DA].
[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 33: As soon as he gets his change he done a hot- foot fer de door.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 36: foot, n. In phrase ‘to do a hot foot,’ to absent one’s self from recitation.
[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 9: Just then in breezes the Wise Cracker on the hot foot.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Go To It 9: I’m doing the hot foot over the State for the Insurance Company.
R.A. Bennet Into the Primitive 304: That’ll bring the bluffer out on the hot-foot.
[US]H.L. Wilson Ruggles of Red Gap (1917) 27: We’d better report to her before she does a hot-foot over here.
[US]C. Coe Hooch! 241: Come down here to Zuroto’s on the hot foot.
L. Hasley ‘My Heart’s a Violin’ in Play it Cool, Sister 212: Men, on the whole, need someone to give them a hot-foot; someone to get them started.

2. in attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]Day Book (Chicago) 6 Dec. 27/2: How long would they hesitate before making a hot-foot trip to the collector’s office and paying up their just taxes?

3. (US) the act of beating the soles of someone’s feet or shoes, e.g. of a rough sleeper by a police officer.

[US]Ade Stories of the Street and of the Town (1941) 97: He was getting the ‘hotfoot.’ A heavy policeman was pounding the sole of his shoe.
[US]A.H. Lewis Confessions of a Detective 32: I’d become learned in certain mysteries, among others, the ‘hot foot’. [...] Given a man, unconscious by virtue or rather vice of rum, and you can restore him to a liveliest habit, both of tongue and locomotion [...] by smartly beating the soles of his feet.
[US]G.H. Mullin Adventures of a Scholar Tramp 54: The bull [...] gave me the hot-foot as a tingling eye-opener.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 27 July [synd. col.] The ‘hot foot’ is Broadway’s favorite gag. While someone engages you in gab, another creeps on all fours under your table, places half a paper match in the sole of your boot and then ignites it with a cigarette.
[US]J. Archibald ‘Short Order Crook’ in Ten Detective Aces Apr. 🌐 ‘You better talk or you will glit blig hotfloot!’ Snooty says to the China boy.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 100: give a hot foot To hit on the soles a park sleeper.

4. (US) a malicious trick played on an unsuspecting sleeper. Matches are thrust end-first into the gap between the upper and sole of the shoe (or between naked toes if vulnerable); the matches are lit, and the shoe ‘catches fire’ or the flesh is painfully singed.

[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Sense of Humor’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 268: The way you give a hot foot is to sneak up behind some guy [...] and stick a paper match in his shoe between the sole and the upper along about where his little toe ought to be, and then light a match.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 50: He had piled papers, scratch sheets and empty cigarette packets below the tilted chair [...] ‘I’m givin’ Shooie a hotfoots.’.
[US]Mad mag. Oct.–Nov. 17: [...] or the hot foot I gave him on his wooden leg.
[US]E. Dundy Dud Avocado (1960) 190: I gave him a hot-foot.
[US]D. Pearce Cool Hand Luke (1967) 184: Don’t you go lightin’ no matches now. You’ll give us a hot foot that won’t wait.
[US]J. Bouton Ball Four 125: I once gave Phil my famous atomic bomb hot-foot, which consists or four match heads stuck inside another match. It was such a lovely hot-foot his shoelaces caught fire.
[US]J. Ciardi A Second Browser’s Dict. 143: Hotfoot. A moronic practical joke.

5. (US) in fig. use, an unpleasant surprise.

[US]S.J. Perelman Westward Ha! 32: Midge rose from her chair as if someone had given her a hotfoot.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 302: ‘Did you say “nonetheless” ?’ ‘Why, yes I did, Mr Marlowe. Is that incorrect ?’ ‘No, but don’t say it in front of a millionaire. He might think you were giving him the hotfoot.’.
[US]S. Stallone Paradise Alley (1978) 174: You could [...] give him a hot-foot, stick gum in his hair, or fart against his leg; Victor would always take it with smile.

In phrases

do the hot-foot act (v.)

to run off.

[US]S. Ford Torchy 183: Give me plenty of room to do the hotfoot act, and I don’t mind guyin’ any of them pavement-pounders.
get the hot foot (v.) (also have hot feet)

to desire to move, to travel.

Roanoke Dly Times (Richmond, VA) 9 Feb. 6/3: I was bawn under the shadow of Bawston Hill monument but I got the hot foot, yer knaw, screwed my nut, yer knaw.
Son House in Levet Talkin That Talk (2010) 167/2: I stayed up there about six or eight months and got the hot foot again and came on nack down in Mississippi.
[US]A. Rollini Big Bands 64: ‘If you get hot feet, Schneeze, come with me. I'm forming my own band’.
hot-foot act (n.)

energetic movement.

[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 113: I ain’t no side-stepper. I takes what’s comin’ an’ tries to look pleasant. But this little hot-foot act with Rajah and Pinckney had me dizzy for a few rounds.