24 February 2015


It’s been a long time coming, but here it finally is—the Haggard Hawks Blog.

With @HaggardHawks going from strength to strength (and some exciting news coming on that front in the next few weeks) the plan is to use this shiny new blog to share more detail and more background on what we post on Twitter, as well as being able to field any of your questions and queries more thoroughly than we can in 140 characters. Feel free to comment, critique or query anything either here or back on Twitter, and we’ll endeavour to answer as many questions as we can on the blog in the weeks to come.

So by means of a handselin, let’s start with the one question we’re asked more often than any other—why “haggard” and why “hawks”?

Well, unsurprisingly it’s an etymology thing. Back when hawks were used to hunt game rather than discuss word origins over the internet, a haggard hawk was one that had been caught in the wild as an adult and then trained to hunt for sport, as opposed to a tame bird that had been bred in captivity. 

Just another day’s work at Haggard Hawks
The word haggard itself was borrowed into English from French in the mid-1500s, and is probably ultimately descended from an old Germanic word, hag, for a copse or woodland. So the original “haggard hawk” was the faulcon hagarde of Old French, literally the “falcon of the woods”. Sadly faulcon hagarde sounds more like the hero of a romance novel than an etymological Twitter account, so we went with Haggard Hawks.

But back to the birds. Because these captured wild birds would always remain that little bit more unruly and unpredictable than their captive-bred cousins, the word haggard eventually broadened to come to describe anything (or anyone) with similar experience of the big bad world, and ultimately anything that was slightly weather-beaten, world-weary, and—well, haggard.

And that’s that. Now if only we could train hawks to make coffee rather than hunt game, then we’d really be on to something. 

1 comment:
  1. I am glad to have found you and your blog (via Youtube). I should have been a linguist for I am crackers for words and grammar. I am certain to rummage through your blog entries for knowledge and fine and fustian words to learn.