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Wood for Hood

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-05-10. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-06-01.

The forms 'Robin Wood' or 'Robin Whood' are sometimes found as variants of 'Robin Hood' . A tentative explanation is offered in the following.

The tendency to "drop aitches" in British English is not new.[1] In dialects and/or sociolects where initial 'W" could also be dropped, the words 'Hood' and 'Wood' became phonetically indistinguishable. By and large, literate Englishmen were aware that an initial sound had been dropped from the sound sequence represented in spelling by 'ood' and felt a need to supply it when writing, but they sometimes chose the wrong letter (sound). This mistake would be the more likely since 'Hood' and 'Wood' were both surnames.

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Notes

  1. See the page on the allusion 1324 - Louis, count of Flanders, to Edward II or III.