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Was trying to search history on the word puck, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. It seems that before 1870 there are only instances of “puck” when used as a name. Some sources, like Etymonline, indicate it originated from “poke”, which referred to the hitting or striking of the object. Was wondering if there were any other potential sources of this word as we often refer to other similarly shaped object as “pucks”.

  • @user240918 thank you kindly for the update. – Joe Blow May 5 at 19:54
  • Note that "Puck" (as used by Shakey & others) was a "sprite" (a sort of fairy) and it's not unlikely that the hockey "puck" drew on that meaning. – Hot Licks May 6 at 0:45
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The OED's first example of the word "puck" in the modern sense comes from the Boston Daily Globe in 1866:

In hockey a flat piece of rubber, say four inches long by three wide and about an inch thick, called a ‘puck’, is used.

There's a much older definition of the word:

An evil, malicious, or mischievous spirit or demon of popular belief.

The OED has examples of this definition going back to 1378. According to the etymology, this meaning is even older:

Probably cognate with Old Icelandic púki mischievous demon, the Devil

You are correct in thinking that the use of the name "puck" for the small rubber disc likely came from the verb "poke." Around the same time that the black biscuit got its name, the verb "to puck" had been developed as an offshoot of "to poke." Here's how the OED defines that infinitive version of "puck":

To hit or strike; to butt; to box.

  • Postscript: I can't imagine passing or shooting a non-circular puck. Before writing this post, I assumed that pucks had always been perfect circles. – Andrew Brēza May 15 at 14:59

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