The Phrase Origin of “Call it a day”

The phrase “call it a day” is a common expression used to indicate the end of a workday or the end of an activity. But where did this phrase come from, and what is its origin?

The phrase “call it a day” has been used in English for several centuries, and its origins can be traced back to the early 19th century. The first recorded use of the phrase was in 1813, in a poem by British poet Walter Scott. In the poem, Scott wrote, “The day was done, and the burden was call’d / A day.” This use of the phrase suggests that it was already a well-established expression in England at the time.

The most likely explanation for the origin of the phrase is that it is related to the nautical tradition of calling the end of the workday by ringing a bell on ships. In this tradition, a bell was rung to signal the end of the working day, and the crew would then stop their work and retire to their quarters. The phrase “call it a day” may have been inspired by this nautical tradition, as it would have conveyed the idea of signaling the end of work in a similar manner

Another possible origin of the phrase “call it a day” is related to the tradition of calling meetings to order. In meetings, a chairperson or leader would call the meeting to order, and at the end of the meeting, they would call it a day. This use of the phrase suggests that it was also used to signal the end of an activity, much like the nautical tradition of ringing a bell to signal the end of the workday.

There are also several theories about the origin of the phrase that are less well-supported, but still worth mentioning. One theory is that the phrase “call it a day” comes from the practice of calling out the end of a market day. In ancient markets, traders would shout “call it a day” to signal the end of the day’s trading and the close of the market. Another theory is that the phrase comes from the practice of calling out the end of a boxing match, as referees would end the match and declare a winner by shouting “call it a day.”

In conclusion, the origin of the phrase “call it a day” is not clear and is open to interpretation. However, the most likely explanation is that it is related to the nautical tradition of ringing a bell to signal the end of the workday, or to the tradition of calling meetings to order. Regardless of its origin, the phrase has become a common expression used to signal the end of a workday or activity, and is widely understood and used in English-speaking cultures around the world.