Do you listen to the news with bated breath? Do you wake up roused for a day’s work? Or are you fed up at your current situation?
Whatever the case may be, you may have more to do with the traditional sport of falconery than you know. All these expressions and more are born out of this noble sport, which, though now defunct except for medieval enthusiasts, has given us a wealth of vocabulary. Shakespeare too, had something to do with it since he actually directed dying words and phrases to new meanings.
- Bate: Birds beating their wings while still tethered; from the Old French batre (to beat), eventually “to hold back, restrain”, as in a bated
- Booze:From the 14th-century verb bouse (Dutch origin), to drink excessively. A bird that drinks too much water will not hunt, similar to those who are “fed up”. Neither will you if you booze too much.
- Fed up: A bird that is no longer hungry has no incentive to hunt.
- Haggard:A wild hawk that’s difficult to train. One of Shakespeare’s favourite terms. Hag has similar connotations, also Shakespearean in origin.
- Hoodwinked:To prevent a bird from immediately searching for prey, falconers cover the bird’s head until they are in the right place to hunt. So, the bird, like the transferred epithet for the human, is deceived.
- Rouse:From the Old French ruser, when a hawk shakes its feathers. Figurative meaning “awaken” first appeared in late 16th-century England.
- Under his thumb: Tightly gripping the jesses, or tethers, under one’s thumb prevents the bird from flying away until it is released.
- Wrapped around his little finger: Wrapping the jesses around the pinkie finger adds an extra anchor in securing the bird.