Hook, Line, and Sinker | Meaning & Origin

The idiom hook, line, and sinker is used to describe the way a person believes or goes along with something without any reservation. In another word, the meaning of “hook, line, and sinker” is “completely.”

“Hook, line, and sinker” is in reference to fishing. A fish usually swallows just the hook with the bait, but if, for some reason, it swallows the hook, the fishing line, and the sinker, it has  not only taken the bait but everything else as well. As such, when someone has fallen for something “hook, line, and sinker,” they have completely believed it.

Examples: Hook, line, and sinker in a sentence
My teacher fell for my excuse hook, line, and sinker.

The boy scouts fell hook, line, and sinker for the campfire stories.

I feel so dumb for believing the scam caller hook, line, and sinker.

How to use hook, line, and sinker

Use “hook, line, and sinker” when describing someone who fell for something without questioning it. It is often used when someone has fallen for a lie or scam that they believed in a naive or absolute way (e.g., “I’m not dumb, but I fell for the fake ad hook, line, and sinker”).

It can also be used in romantic contexts to describe falling in love (e.g., “He fell hook, line, and sinker for the bartender”).

Because “hook, line, and sinker” functions as an adverb, it describes the verb of the sentence, which will often be “fell for” or “believed.”

Examples: Hook, line, and sinker in a sentence
You all bought it hook, line, and sinker.

The first time I met my wife, I fell for her hook, line, and sinker.

My dog fell for the prank throw hook, line, and sinker and searched for the ball I hid behind my back.

Frequently asked questions about hook, line, and sinker

What is a synonym for hook, line, and sinker?
Some synonyms and near synonyms for the idiom “hook, line, and sinker” include: 

  • Completely 
  • Utterly 
  • Through and through 
  • One hundred percent 
What is the origin of hook, line, and sinker?

“Hook, line, and sinker” was first used in the mid-nineteenth century and initially referred to the way a fish might consume all of the fishing equipment besides the bait. As an idiom, it means “fall for something without question.”

What does hook, line, and sinker mean in the context of love?

If you fall for someone “hook, line, and sinker” it means you’ve fallen in love with them completely and without reservation. You are entirely enamored with the person.

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Paige Pfeifer, BA

Paige teaches QuillBot writers about grammar rules and writing conventions. She has a BA in English, which she received by reading and writing a lot of fiction. That is all she knows how to do.