Doff Your Hat

Meanings of “Doff Your Hat”

The phrase “doff your hat” means to raise the hat to respect somebody, or pay homage to somebody, or offer due acknowledgment of some performance by raising your hat slightly.

Origin of “Doff Your Hat”

The phrase “doff your hat” is stated to have originated from the Shakespearean phrase of “doff it” used in his plays, King John as well as in The Taming of the Shrew. This was later used when hat became part of the British attire. That is why in the United States, tip your hat shows the same meanings as doffing your hat; both show the acknowledgment of one’s services and are used to show respect.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

The Anti-Suffragists by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“Fashionable women in luxurious homes,
With men to feed them, cloth them, pay their bills,
Bow, doff the hat, and fetch the handkerchief;
Hostess or guest; and always so supplied
With graceful deference and courtesy;
Surrounded by their horses, servants, dogs –
These tell us they have all the rights they want.”

The stanza sheds light on the almost equal status women enjoy in American society. It also says that anti-suffragists believe that women have everything from respect and control of the home to courtesy and wealth. Therefore, they need not go for votes, and that such political acts do not seem suitable to them. The phrase has been used in the middle to show that women often receive this token, or act of respect from men. The phrase is used with the actual meaning.

Example #2

The Fool’s Prayer by Edward Rowland Sill

“The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.”

These two stanzas present a royal feast, showing the King asking the jester to show his skill in inventing a new type of prayer. The jester, from his side, shows a beautiful grin but the poet states in explicit terms that the jester has displayed a bitter smile underneath it. The phrase means that though he is respectful, the circumstances have forced him to act as a jester. The phrase shows its ironic meanings.

Example #3

You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To by Frank Sinatra

“It’s not that you’re fairer
Than a lot of girls just as pleasin’
That I doff my hat

As a worshiper at your shrine
It’s not that you’re rarer
Than asparagus out of season
No, my darling, this is the reason
Why you’ve got to be mine.”

The singer reproaches his beloved in these stanzas. He also pays homage to her doffing his hat not because she is beautiful than other girls but because he loves her and wants her to be with him. That is why he says that he is the worshipper at her shrine, the reason for doffing his hat. The phrase shows its implied meaning and usage.

Example #4

William Penn: A Life By Andrew R. Murphy

After an adjournment lasting a few days, the trial resumed, but not without another skirmish in the courtroom. Penn and Mead appeared before the bench with their hats off – the expected sign of deference for those entering the royal presence (or in this case, royal court). What happened to the Quaker refusal to doff their hats in the presence of social superiors or political authorities? After all, Penn had laid out Quaker objects to hat-honor in No Cross, no crown, which he had published the year before, and the refusal to doff hat – and therefore to show humans the sort of respect they considered due only to God – was one of Friends’ key practices.

This passage is from Andrew Murphy’s biography of William Pen, the Quaker Movement’s brain. It is stated that he has already objected to this futile and useless custom of removing hats in the royal honor, linking it with religion to assert that if the king does not work for the religion, a Christian is not bound to show him respect.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “My doffing hat would not enhance your reputation here. You will have to be humble to win the respect of others.”

Example #2: “Gordon always touches his hair like doffing his hat to pay homage to his superiors.”

Example #3: “Most of the time the soldiers do not need to salute; just doffing hat does not occur. Therefore, most of them do not consider it a common practice.”

Example #4: “You can doff your hat if you wish to, but if you don’t respect that person’s authority, you might as well don’t do that.”

Example #5: “Henry forgot to doff his hat when he looked at the entourage. It was such a sight to see.”