I’m in the midst of a debate with someone over whether or not the term “weapon” applies to hunting, to cover items such as rifles, bows, arrows, etc. used to take game animals. The two objections being raised are that “weapon” implies combat or warfare, and thus is not applicable to a device used to injure or kill in any non-military context. The other objection is that the word “hunting” just means to search for or chase something, and doesn’t have anything to do with injury or killing. Since the ONLY reference the other party in the debate will accept is the OED (which references an 1880 Enc. Brit. phrase “sporting and military weapons") it’s kind of hard to prove, since I think nothing short of the phrase “hunting weapon” appearing in the OED 3 will actually convince him… Anyway, thoughts on this, for either side, are welcome.
On another track, I’ve been digging through the 1911 Britannica and Chamber’s 1728 Cyclopaedia looking into the subjects of arms (the more common synonym for “offensive weapon") and hunting, and I’ve found a few oddities that bear some more research, but I’m short on resources.
First, it appears that the word “sport” may have been synonymous with recreational hunting some time ago; can anyone provide any evidence that relates to this? There is no article for “sport” in the 1911 EB or the 1728 Cyclopaedia, and I don’t know of any handy century old dictionaries I can use for reference--nor do I have ready access to the OED.
Second, the 1728 Cyclopaedia states “In Its general sense Hunting includes the Pursuit of both hairy and feather’d Game; but in its more proper and restraine’d Significance, it is only applicable to the Beasts of Venery and Chace.” One other reference I recall seeing mentioned “venery”, but it wasn’t until I looked up the definition for that in the Compact OED that I began to wonder about that. The COED defines “venery” as “noun archaic sexual indulgence. — ORIGIN Latin veneria, from venus ‘sexual love’.” Now, either they’re missing a sense of the word, or there’s some serious suppression of historical records of hunting going on…