sacked adj : having been robbed and destroyed by force and violence; "the raped countryside" [syn: despoiled, pillaged, raped, ravaged]
- past of sack
- For the gridiron football term, see quarterback sack
The phrase was current in 17th-century France and was said of a servant or worker who had been dismissed by their master or boss. The expression appears in Randle Cotgrave’s 1611 Dictionary under ‘sac,’ which is ‘bag’ in French: “‘On luy a donné son sac’— said of servant whom his master hath put away.” Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang provided the equivalent expressions used by the Dutch ‘iemand den zak geven,’ to give someone the sack, and ‘den zak krijgen,’ to get the sack, but no dates were given.
The probable explanation for the expression is that in medieval times workman carried the tools or implements of their trade in a bag or sack, which they left at the end of the day in a safe place at their worksite. When an unsatisfactory worker was to be fired, on the last day on the job, his employer would hand him his pay and the sack containing his tools – he had gotten the SACK, he had been SACKED.
Another somewhat less likely explanation, but one that is not discounted by many sources, is that Turkish sultans who grew tired of or dissatisfied in some way with a wife, had her taken from the harem, sewed up in a sack, and dumped into the Bosphorous. This practice of ‘sacking’ as a way of disposing of condemned criminals was also practiced by the Romans who similarly threw the unlucky chaps into the Tiber.
- Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
- Oxford Dictionary of Slang
- American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms (1992) Houghton Mifflin Company
- Cassell Dictionary of Slang (1998) ISBN 0-304-34435-4
- Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins
- Chapman's Dictionary of American Slang
- Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés
- Picturesque Expressions by Urdang