at the drop of a hat

Idioms & Phrases

at the drop of a hat

Immediately, without delay, as in We were ready to pack our bags and go on vacation at the drop of a hat. This phrase probably alludes to signaling the start of a race or other contest by dropping a hat. [Late 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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