Word of the Day: flat-hat

Murdoc’s never heard this word before, but since it’s the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day, here it is:

flat-hat \FLAT-hat\ verb

: to fly low in an airplane in a reckless manner : hedgehop

Example sentence:
Unable to resist the temptation to show off, the young pilot decreased altitude and flat-hatted over the county fairground.

Did you know?
Legend has it that the term “flat-hat” originated with an incident back in the days of barnstormers in which a pedestrian’s hat was crushed by a low-flying airplane. According to one version of the tale, the reckless pilot was subsequently required to purchase a new hat for the hapless pedestrian. It seems unlikely that such an event actually took place, but we can well imagine how fear of having one’s hat smashed flat by a passing airplane might have given rise to such a vivid verb. “Flat-hat” first appeared in English in 1940; another word for flying low to the ground, “hedgehop,” debuted 14 years earlier.

“Sorry Goose, but it’s time to buzz a tower.”


  1. It might derive from vaudeville, actually. ‘Flat hat’ was a euphemism for the lower sorts of clowns and slapstick comedians. Near the end of his life, when he was being hailed (finally) as a genius, Buster Keaton averred that ‘no man can be a genius in slap shoes and a flat hat.’ Anyhow, that seems more likely than a plane buzzing a guy and crushing his hat, but leaving his skull intact. 🙂

  2. Rats. James beat me to it. Hell, ‘negative, ghostrider’ has become slang for telling someone not to do what you know they are going to do anyways in my clique. (You can add ‘the pattern is full’ if you want to emphasize how bad an idea it is.)

  3. Don’t get me started…..Yee haw! Jesters dead! Get your butts back up above the hard deck and return to base! That sonuvabitch cut me off! Just a walk in the park, Kazanski! We…..WE saw a MiG…Maverick’s in a flat spin! He’s headed out to sea! You must get carnal knowledge….of a WOMAN this time… Stop me before I go off again….