Posted by ESC on April 22, 2004
In Reply to: Hit the bulls eye posted by jacquie on April 22, 2004
: We all know it means to aim for the centre of the target, but why is it called a "bulls eye?"
BULL'S EYE - "There are many plausible ways to explain this term, all of them based on a bull's eye, which is about the same size as the small black spot at the dead center of a target. Bull's-eye targets were not used in ancient archery contests, as in commonly thought, but were introduced in England as targets in rifle and handgun competition. Perhaps the bull's-eyes in them were simply named for their resemblance to a bull's eye. But it is possible that bull's-eyes take their name from a British coin called the bull's-eye, which was worth a crown, or five shillings. This coin was in circulation in the early 1800s, about the time bull's-eye targets were introduced, and it would seem more logical to name the target centers after flat coins than after the round eye of a bull. As for the coin, it was so named in the late 17th century, possibly because the one-crown piece was often bet on the outcome of a bull-baiting contest; when one put money 'one the bull's eye' one was betting on the bull, just as today we are said to put a bet on a horse's nose." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997)