Hit the books


      • to study or focus on academic work
        To emphasize the need to prioritize studying or academic work over other activities or tasks

      • to start studying diligently
        To encourage someone to begin studying or to increase their level of effort and dedication towards their academic work

      • to understand or learn something thoroughly
        To convey the idea of thoroughly absorbing knowledge or information through studying and reading

    Examples of Hit the books

    • Sarah's final exams are coming up, so she's been hitting the books for hours every day.

      This idiom means studying intensively, as if one is physically hitting a stack of textbooks or study materials. The phrase originated in the late 1800s, when students would literally hit their books as a way to focus their attention and show their dedication to studying. Today, it's a common expression used to describe someone who is studying hard.


    The idiom "hit the books" has a consistent theme of studying and academic work, with variations in the intention and use. It is commonly used to emphasize the importance of studying, encourage someone to start studying, or convey the idea of thoroughly learning something.

    Origin of "Hit the books"

    The origin of the idiom "hit the books" is believed to come from the phrase "to hit the books hard," which was first recorded in the early 1900s in the United States. The word "hit" in this context means to strike or attack, and in this case, it refers to attacking one's studies with determination and effort.

    The phrase gained popularity in the 1920s and 1930s with the rise of higher education and the increasing importance placed on academic achievement. It was often used by students to remind themselves to focus on their studies and by parents and teachers to encourage their children and students to do the same.

    Over time, the phrase evolved into the shorter version we know today, "hit the books," but the meaning and use remained the same. It continues to be a popular idiom used in educational settings and everyday conversations to emphasize the importance of studying and academic work.