Now You Know

Why do we call the genuine article “the real McCoy”?

In the 1890s, a great boxer known as Kid McCoy couldn’t get the
champion to fight him, and so to seem beatable, he began to throw the
odd bout, and fans never knew if they’d see the “real McCoy.” The plan
worked, and he became the welterweight champion of the world
Once, while in a bar, McCoy was challenged by a drunken patron who
didn’t believe that he was the great boxer, and McCoy flattened him.
When the man came around, he declared that the man who had
knocked him out was indeed the “real McCoy.”

Why is a fistfight called “duking it out”?

“Duking it out” and “Put up your dukes” are both expressions from
the early 1800s when bare-knuckle boxing was considered a lowerclass
activity. When Frederick Augustus, the then duke of York took
up the sport, English high society was shocked. The “Duke” gained
so much admiration from the other boxers, however, that they
began referring to their fists as their “dukes of York” and eventually
as their “dukes.”

How did tennis get the terms seeded and love?

Tennis was popularized by the French nobility, and because a zero looked
like an egg that’s what they called it. Egg in French is l’oeuf, which
became love in English. The seeding or placing of the best players within
favourable tournament positions required other players to graciously
cede — yield or give up — the spots. In time, the word mutated to the
spelling of its homonym, seed, and so players were said to be seeded.

Why are golf assistants called “caddies”?

In medieval France the first-born sons of nobility were known as the
“caput,” or head, of the family, while the younger, less valuable boys
were called “capdets,” or little heads, and were often sent to the military
to train as officers. In English, “capdets” became “cadets,” which
the Scots abbreviated to “cads” or “caddies,” meaning any useless street
kid who could be hired for the day to carry around a bag of golf clubs.

Why are billiards played on a pool table?

During the nineteenth century, off-track gamblers would often play billiards
while waiting to hear the results of a horse race. Sometimes, if they
agreed on the merits of a particular horse, the gamblers would pool their
money in an effort to win a greater amount on one bet or to soften the
blow of a loss. The “pooled” money, both bet and won, was counted out
on the playing surface of the billiard table, which the gamblers came to
call their “pool table.”

From The Book Titled "Now You Know" by Doug Lennox