(To amplify upon ModernAngel's definition)
  1. (said of a person)
    Absolved of blame or responsibility, or relieved of a duty. "I'm going to let you off the hook this time, but don't let me catch you doing it again."
  2. (said of a telephone)
    1. Ringing incessantly, over a period of time. "Thanks to that misprinted ad offering 100% off, our phone has been ringing off the hook."
    2. Disabled because the handset is not properly seated on the base. (Older wall-mounted telephones literally "hung up" when the weight of the handset depressed a pivoting hook on the base.)

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