BY HOOK OR BY CROOK
With the planting season upon us I thought this saying fitting since every year we get the crop in one way or another!
Meaning: By whatever means necessary - be they fair or foul.
Origin: The earliest citation of the phrase that is in Philip Stubbes' The Anatomie of Abuses, 1583, Either by hooke or crooke, by night or day.
It is sometimes suggested that 'by hook or by crook' derives from the custom in mediaeval England of allowing peasants to take from royal forests whatever deadwood they could pull down with a shepherd's crook or cut with a reaper's billhook.
Crooks are the curved or hooked sticks that shepherds use to catch sheep by hooking their hind legs. Hook is a synonym for crook. It is quite possible that the two words were put together to mean 'one way or another', for no better reason than the rhyming. Either that, or the 'wood gathering' derivation is correct. We may never know which.