Friday, July 11, 2003

So what exactly is the origin of the phrase "by hook or by crook"? Some contend that it derives from the practice of cutting firewood by using either a hook or crook - common tools in medieval times, but another school of thought has it that it relates to the geography of Waterford Bay - with Hook head on one side and a place called Crook on the other. One opinion is that the phrase may date to Oliver Cromwell's attempt to take Waterford in 1648 (incidentally, in the news today because of the recent discovery of a related ship wreck). Tony at discounts this explanation on the basis that the phase certainly predates the 17th century. However a letter published in the wonderful online archive of the 19th century journal 'Notes and Queries' makes the Waterford connection to a much earlier historical event - the 1172 visit of King Henry II to Ireland and his landing at Waterford bay. Fascinating suff, no?

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