Monday, April 16, 2018

Word of the Week - Hat Trick

Some families are football families. Baseball families. Basketball families.

We are a hockey family. And since the playoff just began and we're cheering our Penguins on, I thought I'd pause to look at one of the hockey terms. (Okay, so it was a trending word on, which is where I actually got the idea, LOL. Still!)

When I first started watching hockey with my husband, it was a constant case of, "What does that mean? Why are they doing that?" I knew none of the rules. Even now, twelve years later, I still occasionally have to ask for clarification or reasoning.

One of the early terms I needed defined was hat trick. Simple definition: when a single player scores three points in a game. In hockey, when a player gets a hat trick, the fans celebrate it by throwing their hats onto the ice. (One night, this happened during Free Hat Night, when every fan had been given a souvenir ball cap. Oh. My. Gracious. The ice was black with them!)

But where did this come from?

As it turns out, the phrase originated in the 1870s and was used in cricket for a player who took three wickets on three consecutive deliveries. The why isn't entirely clear. Some say that he'd be given a hat by his club, commemorating the feat. Some say he got to pass that hat around for congratulatory donations. Some say it's surely influenced by the magician's trick of pulling something out of his hat, which is recorded for the first time in the same few years. Probably a little bit of all of these.

By 1909, the phrase had been borrowed by hockey, for the feat mentioned above, and it's been a term in the sport ever since!


  1. I'm a lot like that with football. I just don't understand it at all. But I've never heard of the hat trick! (We don't watch a lot of hockey, though, either.) It's a very interesting word.

  2. I am a hockey fan, too! Go Washington Capitals!! Go Ovie!!! :-)

    1. I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that, Melissa. ;-)

      (Funny story. We have friends who are Caps fans. Went to visit them when the kids were younger, and one of their kids--probably 4 or so at the time--said something about hockey and rooting for the Caps. Rowyn, also 4 or so, said, "You mean the Pens." He just couldn't fathom there was another team anyone would root for, LOL. And I thought for a minute there was going to be a pre-schooler hockey fight!)

  3. I love the interesting histories of some words. This was a fun read. :)