Weekly Word: Hat Trick

I always thought of hat tricks as tricks with hats, but apparently the phrase has other meanings. The most general definition of a hat trick is “Three consecutive wins or outstanding accomplishments by the same individual”. Even less specifically, it can mean “a clever or adroitly deceptive maneuver”.

Those definitions come from the word’s use in sports – specifically, in cricket. Merriam-Webster’s word-of-the-day podcast explains:

It may surprise some people to learn that the term "hat trick" as it relates to sports actually originated in British cricket. A bowler who retired three batsmen with three consecutive balls was entitled to a new hat at the expense of the club to commemorate this feat. Eventually, the phrase was applied to a single player scoring three goals in any goal sport and later to three victories or successes in sports as different as horse racing and golf. The phrase finally broadened to include a string of three important successes or achievements in any field.

Since I don’t know the first thing about any sport, it makes sense that I never knew about this kind of hat trick. Am I just that out of the loop, or is there anyone else who hasn’t heard of this phrase until now?