Learn English idioms | Go the whole hog

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

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A 'hog' is another word for a 'pig' but we don't say to go the whole 'pig', we say to go the whole hog. That's the expression. So what does it mean? 'To go the whole hog' means to do everything. You don't do things by half, you do everything!

So let's say you're going to have a party. What do you need for a party? Well, you need to have music, you need to have drinks, you need to have food. Maybe you need to decorate the room. If you go the whole hog it means you do everything! Don't just do half, do everything! Go the whole hog! Because you do everything, it also means that you are doing something the best you can. You're making the biggest effort, you're making something very special. So go the whole hog! Don't do things half as good as you can. Do things the best you possibly can.

So you could say, "I'm going to cook dinner for my family this weekend. I'm going to go the whole hog!" That means I'm going to cook lots of food. I'm going to have a starter, a main course, a dessert, I'll have lots of drinks, I'm going to make it really special.

So, where does the expression come from? Well, it's not clear whether this is an American expression or a British expression or an Irish expression, but some stories say that a hog was also a nickname for an American coin and also for an Irish coin. So to go the whole hog meant to spend all of that amount of money. So, to go the whole hog means to spend everything!

So next time you do something and you want to enjoy yourself make sure you go the whole hog!