hæt trik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun phrase
Meaning: 1. Three goals scored by one player in a soccer or hockey match. 2. The retiring of three batsmen with three consecutive balls by a bowler in cricket. 3. More generally, a string of any kind of three consecutive accomplishments.
Notes: Today the US soccer team plays Portugal in the World Cup playoffs, so we offer a relevant Good Word. With all the odd choices, such as pitch, boots, sweeper, and scissors, plus phrases like bulge the onion bag, sick as a parrot, and cheeky backpass, the pickings are grand. We chose hat trick since scoring once in a soccer match is in itself an accomplishment, but scoring three times is very nearly a feat of magic. As we once heard on the BBC: "Alan Shearer's hat trick shattered Germany's resolve! England won the match, 3 to 2!"
In Play: The popularity of soccer (more than cricket) has led to a broader, more general use of this word: "Did you hear? Kenny Pullum scored a hat trick: he closed 3 major sales this week." Why not use it around school? "Roger may not be worth his salt on the soccer field, but he scored a hat trick in school this week; he aced (made As in) three mid-term exams."
Word History: Today's Good Phrase dates back to the game of cricket as played during the Victorian era (1837-1901). A bowler who retired three batsmen in a row was rewarded with a new hat or an equivalent gift for his accomplishment. Once the term was associated with a triple accomplishment, it quickly passed on to other sports: hockey, soccer, even horse-racing, where the Triple Crown in the US is often referred to as a hat trick. May your favorite team produce a hat trick in the playoffs!
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