- Paul Anthony Jones
(adj.) appearing exhausted or ran down
It’s been a long time coming, but here it finally is—the Haggard Hawks Blog.
With the @HaggardHawks Twitter feed going from strength to strength, the plan is to use this shiny new blog to share more detail and more background on what we post on Twitter, and to field any 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 probably asked more often than any other—why “haggard”?
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.
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 small area of 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 and came to describe anything (or anyone) with similar experience of the big bad world—and, ultimately, anything appearing slightly weather-beaten or world-weary. Or, well, haggard.
Now if only we could train hawks to make coffee rather than hunt game, then we’d really be on to something.