Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Hop-o’-my-Thumb.

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A nix, the same as the German daumling, the French le petit pouce, and the Scotch Tom-a-lin (or Tamlane). Tom Thumb in the well-known nursery tale is quite another character. He was the son of peasants, knighted by King Arthur, and killed by a spider.   1
   Several dwarfs have assumed the name of Tom Thumb. (See DWARFS.)   2
“You Stump-o’-the-Gutter, you Hop-o’-my-Thumb,
Your husband must from Lilliput come.”
Kane O’Hara: Midas.
        “Plaine friend, Hop-o’-my-Thumb, know you who we are?”—Taming of the Shrew (1594).
   To hop the twig. To run away from one’s creditors, as a bird eludes a fowler, “hopping from spray to spray.”   3
   Also to die. The same idea as that above. There are numerous phrases to express the cessation of life; for example, “To kick the bucket” (q.v.); “To lay down one’s knife and fork;” “Pegging out” (from the game of cribbage); “To be snuffed out” (like a candle); “He has given in;” “To throw up the sponge” (q.v.); “To fall asleep;” “To enter Charon’s boat” (See CHARON); “To join the majority;” “To cave in;” a common Scripture phrase is “To give up the ghost.”   4



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