hat in hand

Idioms & Phrases

hat in hand

Also, cap in hand. In a humble manner. For example, They went to her, hat in hand, asking for a change of assignment. This expression alludes to removing one's headgear as a sign of respect and has survived the era of doffing one's hat. [c. 1700]

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