The game was played in China in the first century BC under the name Ti Jian Zi, or "shuttlecock kicking", and in 14th-century England battledore shuttlecock was widely played. "Battledore" is thought to come from the Portuguese bateador or "beater" - as in carpet beater - while "shuttlecock", so called because it is hit back and forth, first appears in a 16th-century poem by John Skelton.
In the 1800s, the seventh Duke of Beaufort and his family were avid exponents of the game on his Gloucestershire estate, Badminton House. In 1867, a version of the game was being played in India by English officers and their families. The rules were developed there and the sport mushroomed over the next few decades. In 1979 it became professional and in 1992 was played at the Olympics.