Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Sports Three goals scored by one player in one game, as in ice hockey.
  • n. Sports Three wickets taken in cricket by a bowler in three consecutive balls.
  • n. Sports Three consecutive wins or outstanding accomplishments by the same individual, such as a jockey in horse racing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Three wickets taken by a bowler in three consecutive balls.
  • n. Three goals scored by one player in a game, usually followed by a shower of hats onto the ice.
  • n. Three achievements in a single game, or similar, such as three consecutive wins.
  • n. Striking out three times in one game.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (sports) three consecutive scores by one player or three scores in one game (as in cricket or ice hockey etc.)

Etymologies

From the hat with which the feat was traditionally rewarded in cricket.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
c.1877, originally from cricket, meaning taking three wickets with three consecutive bowls. This extended to other sports. Allegedly because it entitled the bowler to receive a hat from his club, or perhaps it entitled him to pass the hat for a cash collection. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This is somewhat of a literary hat trick for me: As a nine-year-old boy, I received my first rejection letter from Rod Serling; years later, as a young cub reporter, I witnessed the first burgeoning seeds of the Watergate scandal.

    Roseanne Archy

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