General English


  • noun an outdoor sport played on grass between two teams of eleven, using wooden sticks with curved ends, the aim being to hit a small hard ball into the opposing goal

Origin & History of “hockey”

The first known unequivocal reference to the game of hockey comes in William Holloway’s General dictionary of Provincialisms 1838, where he calls it hawkey, and describes it as ‘a game played by several boys on each side with sticks, called hawkey-bats, and a ball’ (the term came from west Sussex). It is not known for certain where the word originated, but it is generally assumed to be related in some way to hook, with reference to the hockey stick’s curved end. The Galway Statutes of 1527 refer to the ‘hurling of the little ball with hockie sticks or staves’, which may mean ‘curved sticks’.