Word for Wednesday: Golf

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In this week’s Word for Wednesday, we’ll be debunking a popular urban myth.

Originating in Scotland in the middle ages, the game of Golf has risen to worldwide popularity. Despite all the associations of pomp and grandeur, Golf is becoming an increasingly accessible sport.

One thing that doesn’t help these associations is the common misconception that Golf is an acronym; a rather misogynistic one too…

The legend lingers that golf is an acronym for Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.

In fact, the real etymology is likely to be much more straightforward. One potential origin is the Scottish word ‘goult’ meaning ’to strike’. Also, the Dutch ‘kolf’ for ‘club’ is another possible relative.

Using acronyms to invent words is a modern practice so it is almost certain that Golf has no hidden agenda. And despite any elitist connotations the sport may have developed, the word ‘golf ‘probably means nothing more than the simple act of giving the ball a good old club.

Hugh MacDermott


25 Jun 2014
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