World Wide Words logo

Hat trick

Q From Carol Farrell and others: What is the origin of the term hat trick, used to describe a series of three victories in sports?

A It comes from the English game of cricket and refers to a bowler who takes three wickets with three successive balls. For those more familiar with baseball, this is an impressive achievement, similar to a baseball pitcher striking out three batters in a row, but much less common. It seems to have been the custom in the nineteenth century for such a paragon of the art to be awarded a new hat by his club as a mark of his success. However, it is sometimes also said that the phrase alludes to a distinctly more plebeian reward in which the bowler was permitted to take his hat around the crowd for a collection (not necessarily a bowler hat, of course: that was named after a couple of completely different chaps, Messrs Thomas and William Bowler, hatmakers). Hat trick was first recorded in print in the 1870s, but has since been widened to apply to any sport in which the person competing carries off some feat three times in quick succession, such as scoring three goals in one game of soccer.

Page created 27 Jan. 2001

Support World Wide Words.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.


Buy anything from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-hat1.htm
Last modified: 27 January 2001.