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Snookered... I disagree a little.

Posted by TheFallen on October 08, 2003

In Reply to: Snookered? posted by GPP on October 07, 2003

: : : : Where did the term "put some english on the ball" come from?

: : : I believe it comes from the very English/British/Commonwealth games of snooker and billiards - now taken up around the world, especially in the far east. One of the ways of striking the cue ball is to make it spin by hitting it off centre. In this way the ball can be made to curve around other balls, or bounce off the cushion in an unusal, but planned, way.
: : : Pool came along after these games; hence, to spin the ball was taken to be part of the English game.

: : Contrarily enough, and having misspent part of my youth in the snooker halls of south-west London. we do not call it "English" over here in the UK. It's simply called "spin" - or if one's being specific, top, side or back. Applying backspin to a cueball in either billiards, snooker or pool is also known as "screwing" the cueball.

: : A quick piece of advice for those looking to improve their pool game - take up snooker. Become adequately competent at snooker and pool becomes pathetically easy, given that a pool table is only 1/4 the area of a snooker table and its pockets yawn cavernously open like the proverbial Mersey Tunnel. To back this assertion up, I believe that Alison Fisher is currently the #1 female pool player in the US. Up until 1995, she was the British #1 female snooker player.

: From MWO:

: "Main Entry: 1snook·er
: Pronunciation: 'snu-k&r, chiefly British 'snü-
: Function: noun
: Etymology: origin unknown
: Date: 1889
: : a variation of pool played with 15 red balls and 6 variously colored balls"

: "Main Entry: 2snooker
: Function: transitive verb
: Date: 1925
: : to make a dupe of : HOODWINK"

I'm not entirely happy with M-W's definition #2. It's a slight leap of faith from the original figurative meaning of the verb "to snooker", though it's clear from the following that in the US (though not the UK in my experience), the sense of "to snooker" as in to fool or bamboozle has evolved.

The American Heritage Dictionary has it more complete and therefore more right. Here's the paste.

VERB: Inflected forms: snook·ered, snook·er·ing, snook·ers

1. Slang
a). To lead (another) into a situation in which all possible choices are undesirable; trap.
b). To fool; dupe: "Snookered by a lot of malarkey about drilling costs, a Texas jury . added $3 billion of punitive damages" (New Republic).
2. To leave one's opponent in the game of snooker unable to take a direct shot without striking a ball out of the required order.

Interesting to muse which came first? Was the game named after the figurative 1a) meaning, or did 1a) come about because of the game?