Wood for Hood
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-05-10. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2022-05-17.
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. 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' are both surnames.
Pages with examples
16 pages illustrate the vacillation between 'Hood' and 'Wood':
- 1548 - Robin Hood's Well (Nottingham)
- 1585 - Lutterell, Thomas - Petition of Students of Gray's Inn
- 1836 - Thiele, J M - Letters from England and Scotland
- 1883 - Bayzand, William - Coaching in and out of Oxford
- Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood
- Robhoods of Walsham le Willows (links)
- Robin Hood Ball (Netheravon)
- Robin Hood Court (Bow Lane)
- Robin Hood Court (Holborn)
- Robin Hood Court (Tooley Street)
- Robin Hood Court (Upper Thames Street)
- Robin Hood Yard (Holborn)
- Robin Hood Yard (St James's Square)
- Robin Hood's Coppice (Arborfield)
- Robin Wood Ground (Arborfield)
- Robin Wood's Rock (Beadnell Bay)
- See the page on the allusion 1324 - Louis, count of Flanders - Letter to Edward II or III.