Most people like a punt, but just where did the word originate from?

January 23, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

If the Republic of Ireland had not gone down the single currency route, would EuroMillions be called PuntMillions after its former currency – or would that have been far too confusing?

Probably, yes. Punt is one of those words that is spelt the same but can mean different things of which there are many examples… I believe they are called homographs!

For those of a scholarly bent, punt is more than likely to conjure up images of leisurely days as a student drifting down the River Cam in a rowing boat, while for rugby fans it is used to describe a kick downfield out of hand – something England’s Rob Andrew liked to do quite a lot in the 1980s/1990s.

People enjoying a punt along the River Cam in Cambridge

People enjoying a punt along the River Cam in Cambridge. This is just one of many uses for the word

It is also the term used for the indentation you get at the bottom of a wine or champagne bottle – something you are likely to encounter if you’re celebrating a windfall unless, of course, you prefer a ‘shot’…there I go again with those homographs. But for gambling types, whose weekly priority is to check EuroMillions results online, a punt is likely to refer to having a bet.

Common consensus suggests the word punt probably derives from pons, the Latin for bridge, whereas the explanation behind ‘punter’ – the name given to someone having a bet – is a little more convoluted. According to Yahoo Answers it has interesting and disputed origins.

In the sense of a gambler it is traced back to 1706, referring to a style of play in a card game. The Oxford English Dictionary becomes fairly cautious at this point, but acknowledges that one theory is that the word derives from the same root as the word ‘point’. Presumably from the action of pointing for another card (which in blackjack for example is to indicate a willingness to ‘take a risk’).

One thing is certain: if you do win the EuroMillions, talk of being rich will have nothing to do with describing the thickness of the gravy on your Sunday roast and everything to do with the money in your bank account.

Category: News

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