hit the road
hit the road
also, hit the trail (US)
- begin a journey
- set out on a trip
- get underway
- We’d better pack the car and hit the road before it gets dark.
- I’d love to stay and have dinner, but I’d better hit the road.
- Come on, let’s hit the road before rush hour kicks in.
- Jim was being loud and obnoxious so, the bartender told him to hit the road.
- The hunter hit the trail as the first rays of the sun broke through the trees.
This informal phrase meaning to leave (either to go home or to set out on a trip of some kind) has its origins in the pounding of a horses hooves ‘hitting the road (or trail).’ It would also refer to feet or car tyres landing on the road too. It is mostly used for these three forms of transport. It wouldn’t be used for a flight or a train journey, for example.
W. F. Butler wrote ‘hit the trail’ in 1873 in his book ‘Wild North Land‘.
Then in the early 1960s, Ray Charles sang his famous song “Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more” Written by Percy Mayfield, this song could have had a hand in the phrase becoming a negative way to tell someone to leave.
Most often it means to leave of your own choice because you have something pressing to do or out of necessity.