to "book it" -- meaning to hurry or run

Tochka

Senior Member
"To book it" seems have a new usage: namely, to express exerting oneself while racing to get somewhere on foot. I'm not sure, but I gather it may also carry the implication that the subject is doing this while encumbered (by books?).
Has anyone encountered this usage? If so, have you any insights into its origin?
My first impression was that this was simply a corruption of "to hoof it", meaning to go somewhere on foot, since it's used in a grammatically similar way. But "to hoof it" has no implication of speed or hurrying, only of going by foot.

Example: "I looked up at the clock and realized I had to make it clear across to the other side of campus in seven minutes, so I dropped what I was doing, grabbed my backpack, and raced out immediately. I'll tell you, I was really booking it! And I just barely made it in time."

The expression is apparently in common usage among students at my daughter's college (American English, East Coast).

Thanks!
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    There's nothing new about using "book" to mean "run" or "move fast", Tochka. My friends and I were using that verb back in 1967, when I was in second grade. Using "it" after "book" doesn't really change the verb's basic meaning - to move fast.: I was really booking it. = I was really booking = I was going as fast as I could/I was moving really fast. I don't hear it anymore out here in Colorado, but it doesn't surprise me that it still exists in the colloquial language of kids who go to your daughter's college.
     
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    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Is it possible to be related to schedule, and with the fear of not being on time some place someone need be?
    Hello, Irinet. I don't advise using "book" with the meaning you intend. Many speakers won't understand what you are trying to say. If you are sure that your listener uses "book", then you could use that word with that listener.

    If you are not sure that your listener uses "book" to mean "hurry" or "move fast", it's much safer and more sensible to use "hurry". Remember that "book" meaning "hurry" is really a slang term. It's not part of "Standard English" in my opinion.
     

    irinet

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Hello, I do not intend to use that way, I was wondering if its expansion is related to 'be on time' and that would be the reason 'to hurry or to run'. Tochka was asking about the origin of this meaning and I was thinking that 'book' is much closer to 'schedule' and 'regulations' than 'to speed'. This was my thought and my doubt at the same time. Thank you for advice.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Thanks for the clarification, irinet. As far as I know, the use of "book it" that Tochka mentioned has nothing to do with "scheduling" as in "I'd like to book a room at your hotel." It's just a slang term for "moving really fast".
     

    Tochka

    Senior Member
    Thanks everyone!
    I see now that it is not so common but it is always nice to learn something new even 'the new is 4 decades old.:tick:
    Agreed. Thanks for that bit of history, Owlman5. Interesting that in that over 6 decades of living in various areas of the east coast--and having frequently had to "book it" myself--I never encountered the usage before now.* I'll let my daughter know the expression has a longer history than I thought. ;)
    @Copyright: Thanks for the links. Will be checking these out. I actually did try searching the threads for this before posting, but only seemed to be bringing up threads relating to booking a room or an appointment.

    ---edit
    *Adding a qualifier to "before now": viz., "--at least that I recall." After reading the discussions, I feel now that I may have heard it in passing at one time or another. It's definitely part of my active vocabulary, however.
     
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    halimeda

    Member
    USA English
    I live in Colorado, use this term, and have never thought of it as unusual. I'm originally from California. Interesting to know that in some parts of the country it is not a well known slang term.
     

    Miss Julie

    Senior Member
    English-U.S.
    I live in Colorado, use this term, and have never thought of it as unusual. I'm originally from California. Interesting to know that in some parts of the country it is not a well known slang term.

    It is in my part of the country! Just the other day my husband and I were in the car at a railroad crossing and I said, "That train is really booking, isn't it?" :D
     
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