Getting the sack – of belongings 

“When Scottish farm labourers were fired it meant that the thatched roofs of their houses were burnt to make them unlivable. Sacking meant they were only allowed to take a sackful of belongings with them.”From Susan Stead via Sydney Morning Herald column 8, 2 Sept 2016.

PS Other sources say that being given the sack originally meant being given back your sack of tools to take away, i.e. go find another job. In the Scottish Highland clearances, thatched rooves were burned to force evictions but were not necessarily connected to “getting the sack” of tools or belongings. Perhaps being fired in Susan Stead’s story might refer to burning the roof of the house? But here’s an article that says being fired from a job may be more like a bullet being discharged or fired from a gun.


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