What Does Throw Your Hat in the Ring Mean?

Throw Your Hat in the Ring Meaning

Definition: To volunteer oneself to take part in an activity; to challenge someone in an activity.

Origin of Throw Your Hat in the Ring

This expression comes from the sport of boxing. In the past, if a person wanted to fight, he could throw his hat into the boxing ring. This let the referee know he wanted to challenge another person in the boxing match.

In other words, at one point this wasn’t an idiom at all, and it had a literal meaning where someone would throw his or her hat into the boxing ring.

Examples of Throw Your Hat in the Ring

throw hat in the ringIn this conversation, two high school students are discussing their plans for after graduation.

Lisa: Hey, Annie. What’s up?

Annie: Not much. I just wanted to let you know that I heard about an interesting scholarship that I thought you might be interested in.

Lisa: Really? What is it?

Annie: If you win the scholarship, it provides full tuition to your university. They just created it, so I thought you might not have heard of it yet. It’s for women who are interested in majoring in math, physics, or engineering courses.

Lisa: That’s sounds awesome!

Annie: Yeah. I think you should throw your hat in the ring. It’s a pretty competitive process, but I think you have a good chance of winning!

Lisa: Thanks for letting me know. I’ll think about entering my application for the scholarship!

throw my hat in the ringIn the dialogue below, two friends are talking about choosing a new team captain for their soccer team.

Seth: Hey Jimmy! How was soccer practice?

Jimmy: It was interesting. Our team captain is moving out of state, so we need to choose a new team captain. We decided to see who was interested, and choose from the people who volunteered. I decided to put my hat in the ring.

Seth: That’s exciting! Were you chosen?

Jimmy: I’m not sure yet. We’ll vote at the next practice.

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about local politics.

  • The Queens Republican has been considering a run against Mayor de Blasio, but said he has decided not to throw his hat in the ring. –New York Daily News

This excerpt is from an article discussing a new host for a morning talk show.

  • Christian Slater wants to take his talents “Live!” with Kelly Ripa. “I’m putting my hat in the ring, why not?” Slater told Ellen DeGeneres on Thursday’s episode of “Ellen.” –New York Daily News


The saying throw my hat in the ring means you nominate yourself to participate in a contest or other activity.