Hoodwink. It's a great word, isn't it? Nowadays, it means to trick or deceive someone (Hmm, now why politics make me think of that?), which is not especially nice. Yet, there's something almost benign or comedic to it, isn't there? "I've been hoodwinked!" Like bamboozled, which has similar meaning. Maybe it's the double o's in the word--they're kind of like googly eyes. Or it's the way it sounds. Say it out loud: hoodwinked. It sounds kind of harmless, though no one really wants to be hoodwinked.
Most dictionaries trace the word back to the 1600s, where it's original meaning was different. Back then it meant to blindfold, or cover someone's eyes (wink) with a hat (hood). And here it's easy to see both why it morphed into today's meaning and where it connects with birds of prey.
I have a friend who is a falconer. He keeps several hawks and falcons and uses them for hunting. Falconry used to be quite popular, and was once referred to as the sport of kings. Now, the thing about birds of prey is they're really killing machines, and they're not especially sociable. Even birds that are raised in captivity tend to have an edge to them. When the birds are first being trained, or when they're being transported from place to place, it's important to keep them calm. One of the most effective ways to do that is like this:
|Where'd everyone go?|
The hood covers the bird's eyes but allows it to breath. Generally, once the hood goes on, the bird calms down. The boxes we used for transporting our birds had small holes that allowed air to get in and keep things cool, but little light. Keeping the bird in the dark, where it couldn't see, worked the same as the hood. Those boxes are frequently referred to as giant hoods.
My falconer friend told me once that the modern usage of hoowinked--to trick or deceive--arose from the fact that the hood essentially 'tricks' the bird into thinking it's night. I'm not sure about that one; it seems entirely possible that the archaic form of the word--to blindfold--came from the falconry practice and then changed. Either way, it's still an interesting word with an interesting history. Have a great weekend, everyone!
'Hooded' by Patries71, used under Creative Commons license