Expression: To Hit The Sack / Hay

In this expression episode of Aussie English I teach you guys the meaning of the expressions “To hit the sack” and “To hit the hay” and how to use them.

Expression – To Hit The Sack / Hay

G’day guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today’s obviously an expression episode, and the expression that I want to teach you guys today is, “To hit the sack”, “To hit the sack” or “To hit the hay”, “To hit the hay”. And both of these expressions just mean to go to bed, to go to sleep. You get into bed and you fall asleep. If I say, “I’m going to hit the sack” or “I’m going to hit the hay” it just means I’m going to go to bed.

So, I’ll go through the definition of each of these words in these two expressions or in this one expression with two different possible endings that you can have, “Sack” or “Hay”.

“To hit”, “To hit” is obviously a verb and it means to smack, to strike, to punch, to beat something, and you can do it with your hand or with a tool. So, you can hit a nail with a hammer. You can hit someone with your fist. So, you can punch someone. If you fall over you’ll hit the ground. And if a car runs into a person or crashes into another car then you can say that car has hit the person or hit the other car. So, that’s “to hit”.

“Sack”. “A sack” or “The sack”, this is a noun. “A sack” is a large bag made from a strong material such as hessian. And hessian is the kind of material you’ll see coffee in or potatoes, those hessian sacks. They’re kind of really coarse fabric. So, it can be strong material like hessian, thick paper or plastic. And it’s used for storing or carrying goods. So, as I said before it’s… I think, when I think of a sack, you could say like a sack that you’ve got your school gear in, you know, books and stuff in a sack. It’s sort of a bag. Or it’s more like a sack of potatoes, a bag of potatoes, a hessian bag, or a sack of rice, or a sack of coffee. A lot of the time with those sorts of grains or foods. That’s a sack.

So, “Hay”. “Hay” is sort of a plural, you wouldn’t say “A hay” it’s just “The hay”, and “Hay” is the grass that’s been mown, which means it’s been cut down by a machine, it’s been mown, or a person, you could mow it yourself with a scythe* or with a knife. And it’s been dried in order to be used as fodder, fodder, “F-O-D-D-E-R” and fodder is food for livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses. So, “hay” is the kind of thing you will see on farms that gets stored and then fed to livestock. So, you’ll often see it in hay bales, which are large rapped up bundles of hay, or you may see it as a haystack or a pile of hay in the field. So that’s “Hay”.

So, the term, “To hit the hay” or “To hit the sack”, actually originates in the US, so in the united states, in the early 20th century, so in the early 1900s, and this is when mattresses, which are the things you lie on in bed, that’s a mattress, the soft squishy thing that you lie on when you sleep. They were often made of a sack, so, a material bag, that was stuffed with hay. So, you got hay from a farm and then you put it in a sack and in the early 1900s for a lot of people that was what their mattress was made out of. So, their bed was made of a sack full of hay, or stuffed with hay. So, when you go to bed you’re obviously literally falling into bed, or you’re lying in bed, and if your bed is made from a sack of hay then you can say that you are literally “Hitting the sack” or “Hitting the hay” when you fall into or get into bed.

So, when would I use this phrase? This is somewhat of an informal phrase, though it’s… it’s the kind of thing that isn’t really offensive in any way if you were to say this in a formal situation. It’s just… it’s just that it’s very informal. So, it would be very casual for you to say at the end of say a formal conference night at university or something to your colleagues, “Hey guys, I’m going to go hit the hay”. That’s a very, very, very informal, casual way of saying, “Hey guys, I’m going to bed. I’m leaving. I might go back to my hotel and hit the hay. I’m going to go back to my hotel and go to bed”. So, this is definitely the kind of thing that I use quite a lot but mainly when speaking to my family or friends or just anyone that I really know quite well, and any time I’m in a situation where I’m going to say goodbye to them just before I get into bed. So, normally if I’m having a conversation on social media like Facebook and I’m probably already in bed, so on my laptop chatting away, if I’m about to go to sleep I’ll say, “Sorry man, I might chat to you tomorrow. I’m pretty wrecked, I’m tired. I’m going to hit the hay. So I’m going to go to bed”. Um… that said, when you are out and about you can say that you’re going to go home and then hit the hay. So, it may not necessarily be the fact that you’re going to go straight to be then and there, right in that moment, but that you plan to say, go home after you’ve been clubbing or you’ve been out at a pub with friends and you say, “Look I’m going to go home. I’m really tired. I might head home and then hit the hay”.

So, that’s probably enough. You probably get the idea about what the phrase, “To hit the hay” or “To hit the sack” means. They both are exactly the same thing, and it’s just that idea of going to bed, getting into bed, hitting the hay, hitting the sack.

So, let’s do some listen and repeat exercises, and I might do these in my normal accent, the contracted versions, so the first phrase is going to be “I’m going to hit the hay”, but you’re going to hear me say it in the contracted, native way that I would say this, “I’m gonna hit the hay”.

I’m gonna hit the hay.

You’re gonna hit the hay.

She’s gonna hit the hay.

He’s gonna hit the hay.

We’re gonna hit the hay.

They’re gonna hit the hay.

And I might just add there, which I’ve only just noticed, when I say “I’m going to hit the hay” and I really contract that and say it quickly, for some reason you drop the “G” [in gonna] so you just hear “I’m’onna”, “I’m’onna”.

I’m’onna hit the hay

I’m’onna hit the hay

I’m’onna hit the hay

And again, you can say “I’m going to hit the hay”, “I’m gonna hit the hay”, “I’m’onna hit the hay”, it’s totally up to you guys at the end of the day whether or not you use this kind of contraction and you speak like this. The main reason I like to do exercises like this now is that I know that most of you have an advanced level in English, and I know that the Australian accent, particularly for people who come to Australia and want to work here, study here, they’re going to hear these kinds of phrases and contractions from natives who aren’t going to realize they’re speaking this way, and that’s why I want to give you guys exposure to it.

Let’s just do one more example listen and repeat exercise guys, but this time I’ll say, “Hit the sack” and it’ll be in the form “I might hit the sack”. So, let’s go.

I might hit the sack.

You might hit the sack.

He might hit the sack.

She might hit the sack.

We might hit the sack.

They might hit the sack.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and now I hope you get the idea of the phrase, “To hit the sack” or “to hit the hay”. It’s pretty late here in Australia. It’s about 10PM, I’m pretty wrecked. I’m pretty tired. So, until next time guys. I’m going to hit the hay. Chat to you later!

Check out the Aussie Chinwag: To hit the hay/sack video to see Ian and Jo discuss what the expression means to them and how they would use it.