Hat-Trick

It’s football time again! I can’t believe it’s only been two years since I last thought about the English language and football.

Are you excited about the World Cup?

I normally love when the big tournaments are on, but I haven’t been too excited about this one. Maybe it’s because of the sneaking suspicion that Russia wasn’t awarded the World Cup because of the nation’s traditional love of football.

Still, there’s been some interesting action already. This evening, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Spain. In other words, he scored three goals. This is a term that’s also used in other sports to refer to one player scoring three times, or getting three positive outcomes of some variety. Why is it called a hat-trick?

The term dates back to 1858, and a game of cricket. Bowler H.H Stephenson took three wickets with three consecutive bowls (the wicket is the set of three stumps with the little thing on top). The fans were so delighted that they held a collection for him and then, for some reason, they didn’t just give him the money. Instead, they bought him a hat, and presented him with it.

History hasn’t recorded if he liked the hat.

The term then came to be used in a variety of sports, though the practice of buying the scorer a hat didn’t catch on. The term probably became popular because people associate it with magic tricks, and I imagine that most people assume that’s where the term comes from.

You might also have noticed that the word is hyphenated, which I’m not sure I’d ever noticed before. There’s no real reason for that, as there aren’t really any hard and fast rules about when to use hyphens with compound nouns.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the World Cup, particularly if you have a team to follow, and hopefully there’ll be more hat-tricks!

 

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