Sunday, September 3, 2017


On the comeback trail, disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker hawks high-priced “survival buckets," each one filled with freeze-dried nibblies guaranteed to come in handy at the Rapture.

You have to wonder where Bakker―who fleeces his flock of shut-ins for millions annually―got his gift for hoodwinking.

To hoodwink means, of course, to pull the wool over someone's eyes. But the word comes from falconry, not shepherdry.

To calm a falcon―with eyesight 10 times sharper than a human's―until it reaches the hunting spot, a falconer covers the bird's head with a leather hood.

In a word, the hunter hoodwinks the falcon.

The term is redundant: both of its roots mean to blindfold.

In the 16th century, hood meant to scarf; wink meant to close both eyes.

A 1610 translation of St. Augustine’s City of God included the sentence, "Let not the faithless therefore hoodwink themselves in the knowledge of nature."

Hoodwink came into popular use thanks not to St. Augustine's translator, but to an amateur falconer named William Shakespeare, who used the word over 50 times in his plays.

HAT TIP: Thanks to Ann Ramsey for inspiring this post. Falconry has given us many common words and expressions, including under my thumb and wrapped around my little finger―expressions Jim Bakker no doubt uses daily.
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