Learn English idioms | Get the sack

English idioms are colourful expressions we use that have a special meaning. What does it mean in English to get the sack? Watch this video lesson and find out more about English idioms...

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This has become a very common expression now, to get the sack and it means 'to lose your job', 'to be fired from your job', 'to be dismissed from your job' and this means that you've done something wrong or you're not good at your job and so for that reason you get the sack or your boss gives you the sack, you're told to leave your job.

So you could say, "he was really bad at his job, so the boss gave him the sack" or "she was stealing money from work, so she got the sack". You could also say, "I didn't want to get the sack, so I decided to resign". But if you get the sack, this is not your choice. Your boss tells you to leave your job, because you're not good at your job or you've done something wrong.

So why do we say this? Well, what is a sack first of all? A sack is a bag, basically. The expression is an old one and apparently comes from a lot of different countries. To get the sack in the past literally meant when you were dismissed from your job, told to leave your job, your boss would give you a sack, a big bag, with all your things in, all your tools, all the things you use for your job. He would give you the bag with your things and tell you to go away. So he would literally 'give you the sack'. If your boss gave you a sack with all your things in he was telling you to leave and don't come back.

So these days, if you're bad at your job or you make a mistake in your job or if you do something illegal in your job your boss will give you the sack and when you go home and you see your family you say, "I have to find a new job...I got the sack!"