It realized a couple of nights ago I don’t truly know what “off the hook” means. Not as in, “I let you off the hook,” but as in, “That’s off the hook.”

I understand that one means “I saved you from an obligation” and the other means “That’s seriously awesome.” But where do they come from? Is one a hook like Texas Chainsaw Massacre/Meat Locker hook, or like you’re on the phone? Do either of them mean you forgot to hang the phone back up? “That’s off the hook” can also be “That’s off the chain,” which I heard first from Allison. So then I wonder if it has something to do with tires, and snow chains.

What is the hook? The catchy part of the song? The thing on the back of your bedroom door for your robe? A pirate’s hand?

What’s off the hook? Where? Why does that mean it’s awesome?