Sporting Vernacular 17. DRAW

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FOR THE English and Scottish football teams on Saturday, the draws they managed were as much good to them as defeats.

The origin of the word's sporting sense is not entirely certain (the original edition of the OED lists 89 uses of "draw"), but it began life as the Anglo-Saxon dragan, to "drag" or "carry" (the present German and Dutch tragen and dragen still mean this; c.f. also "dray").

The word's sporting meaning is probably a contraction of "withdraw" - a drawn game is one in which the stakes have been withdrawn in the absence of a result. So in 1610, for example, Carleton wrote: "It concluded, as it is many times in a cock pit, with a drawn match; for nothing in the end was put to the question." The only question on Saturday was where England and Scotland go from here.