Badminton – Origin of the word

The sport of badminton originated in the mid-19th century.  However, it is a mystery how the sport derived its name. The earliest derivative of the word badminton can be traced to the name of a place called Badimyncgtun (old English) in 972 A.D. This place was an estate of a man called Baduhelm. No further details exist about this place or its correlation with the sport.

Three parallel tales took place in the mid-19th century. Expatriate officers of British India played a game called Battledore and Shuttlecock, also known as, Jeu de Volant. This was played using a battledore, a smaller version of the modern sized badminton racquet and a shuttlecock that was made of cork. The objective of the game was to hit the shuttlecock with the battledore from one player to another.

It is said that the name “badminton” is likely to have derived from  Duke of Beaufort’s “Badminton House” in Gloucestershire, where battledore was regularly played. It is also said that during this decade, a toy dealer named Isaac Spratt published a book called “Badminton Battledore – A New Game”. However, no copies of this book have survived.

Some illustrations of this archaic version of badminton often depicts the game in action without the net. However, the earliest published description of badminton can be found in the 1863 issue of The Cornhill Magazine, where the sport was described as follows:

“Battledore and shuttlecock played with sides, across a string suspended some five feet from the ground.”

Alongside battledore, a similar sport was played in India. This sport went by the name “Ball Badminton” and was played in Thanjavur in South India. Instead of a shuttlecock,  a woollen ball was used in this game.

It was not till the 1870s, when the modern version of the game begin to take shape. Despite the historical records, there is no concrete evidence that suggests how the name badminton was actually derived. 

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