A continuing journey into word origins.
From the book by Webb Garrison
445 Fascinating Word origins
One of the most vexatious(full of disorder or stress)problems of the medieval English household was the shortage of fuel. Trees were not scarce, on the contrary, forests were thick and abundant. But long-standing royal proclamations made it illegal for commoners to fell a tree without permission. Only dead branches and trees blown down by storm could be used for firewood.
Consequently, the discovery of a fallen tree was a stroke of great good luck. Such a windfall, as it was called, might mean the difference between having a warm blaze and going fireless on cold days. From trees felled by the wind, the expression came to be applied to any piece of good fortune.
Someone who connects with a target scores a hit. In baseball, players have distinguished a hit in which the ball is "fair," within bounds, or a "foul ball," one that is out of bounds. A successful Broadway play, motion picture, television series, book, syndicated column, or comic strip character-along with many other things-is also dubbed a hit.
This ancient word soon came to designate a computer user's visit to a Web site. Since each visit can be counted by means of a relatively simple program, the popularity--and hence the importance--of a Web site is measured in terms of how often a hit is registered in the course of a day, a week, or a month.
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