I heard this sentence and wondering what does book mean?

Let's book! police is comming...

I looked into a dictionary but didn't find an appropriate meaning for book in the sentence above but i can guess it means leaving a place.

  • How commonly is used book in this way?

  • Is it a informal word or formal?

  • Is it old-fashioned?

2 Answers 2


Oxford has book, as an intransitive verb, meaning "leave suddenly" or "move quickly". They list it as an American usage, and informal.

Merriam-Webster has book as an intransitive verb, meaning "leave" or "go", especially "to depart quickly". They list it as slang.

FreeDictionary cites American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition to give book as an intransitive verb meaning "to move or travel rapidly". This is the only one that offers any idea of etymology, of those I have found - and it is highly speculative. They suggest it is perhaps derived from boogie.

These definitions, and my experience, suggest that it's very dialect-dependent, though American cultural hegemony has probably made it more recognisable to more people around the world. I've certainly come across pop culture things where characters say "book it" to mean "run away quickly". It is also clearly very much informal. The American Heritage Dictionary version gives the example "we booked along at a nice clip", which suggests to me that it might actually have been more common once upon a time, and didn't have the connotation of leave, just of move. Now, though, the slang usage means it's not likely to be seen as old fashioned, but it is likely to be seen as very informal.


Yes, "Book" book means to leave, usually with haste. It's not used much any more though.

It is very informal.

  • Some examples or an authoritative reference (or both) would make this a more informative answer for those of us who are not familiar with this idiom. Jul 30, 2017 at 17:29
  • Have never heard this used in the US. Could you add a dictionary reference? I could not find one off-hand.
    – user3169
    Jul 30, 2017 at 18:08
  • @StoneyB onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/book
    – rebble
    Jul 30, 2017 at 18:55
  • The closest similar word I can think of would be to "scoot" or "skidaddle".
    – rebble
    Jul 30, 2017 at 18:57
  • 1
    The link you give, and the ELU link in a comment both suggest this is American, particularly New England/New York. dating back to late 60s. Nothing suggesting it is British.
    – James K
    Jul 30, 2017 at 19:58

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