Where does the word “battledore” come from and What does battledore mean?

A battledore was originally a paddle-shaped wooden bat used by women as a mangle, or “beetle,” for linens, back in the fifteenth century.

There is no certainty as to the origin of the name, but it might then have been a play upon words, battle instead of beetle, and because beetle was also the name for a hard-sheathed insect for which another name was dor or dore, the two might have been combined humorously into battledore.

Our ancestors enjoyed their jokes, too. The name also denoted a paddle for removing loaves from an oven or for propelling a canoe.

And, when the game of rackets, subsequently called “battledore and shuttlecock,” reached England in the sixteenth century, the name was applied to the racket, because of its shape.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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