Hind and Behind

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This post discusses the words in which the element hind, pertaining to location or movement in or to the rear, appears.

The adjective hind means “back” or “rear.” Hindbrain refers to the rear part of the brain. Hindquarters denotes the rear part of a four-legged animal, though the term is sometimes used informally in place of “buttocks,” and a hind shank is a cut of meat from the upper part of an animal’s hind leg. (Heinie, and its alternate spelling, hiney, are slang terms for the buttocks.)

To hinder is to hold or keep back, and something that does so is a hindrance. (Hinder is also a comparative of the adjective hind, meaning “more behind.”) Hindmost is a synonym for last, seldom used but widely known from the expression “The devil take the hindmost.” Hindsight means “perception of an event after it occurs” and is usually seen in the phrase “in hindsight” or in the expression “Hindsight is twenty-twenty,” which means that one’s vision is clear (at 20/20 acuity) in retrospect because it is easier to analyze and judge an event after the fact than before it occurs.

Hinterland, taken directly from German, means “back country,” connoting an area far inland or remote from urban areas.

Behind stems from the Old English adverb and preposition behindan, meaning “after” or “at the back of”; the first syllable means “by,” and hindan means “from behind.” The compound behindhand, serving as an adjective and an adverb, means “in a backward state” (of development or thinking) or “in the rear”—or, perhaps formed on the model of beforehand, “unable to pay.”

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5 thoughts on “Hind and Behind”

  1. The word “hindmost” is used more often than you think!
    This word is used in descriptions of creatures that have three, four, or more pairs of legs, e.g. insects, spiders, crustaceans. “Hindmost” is also used to describe manmade contrivances and mechanisms.
    That ant got its hindmost pair of legs caught in some sticky sap.
    Lobsters have a foremost pair of limbs that are quite large, and a hindmost pair that are quite small.
    Those wagons are pulled by six horses, and the hindmost pair is usually the less-experienced pair.
    The broken-down railroad train has four locomotives, and in the hindmost one, the diesel engine has failed completely. It needs to be towed to the major repair depot for a complete overhaul.
    The hindmost pair of vehicles in the French armored convoy was ambushed by the Spanish guerrillas, and both of them were left motionless and in flames.
    In this convoy of ships, the admiral has a big surprise for the Filipinos. The hindmost ship is loaded with Christmas presents for all of the children of the island of Mindoro!
    The hindmost pair of camels in the caravan is falling farther and farther behind. They both must have water soon.
    The hindmost trio of students in my class has no hope of passing, and the best thing for them to do would be to drop out before the college’s deadline.

  2. In naval academies around the world, and ones for the coast guard, the hindmost student to graduate with his class is called the “anchor man”.

  3. The “Golden Hind” was the name of the galleon that Sir Francis Drake commanded in his voyage around the world during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
    Drake intended to sail through the Strait of Magellan to reach the Pacific Ocean, but bad weather arose off extreme southern South America, and Drake and his “Golden Hind” were blown too far south. They made a serendipitous discovery: Cape Horn at the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego. South of Cape Horn is the Drake Passage: about 1,000 kilometers of stormy ocean separating South America from Antarctica.
    At one time, I thought that a golden hind was some kind of a horn, but now I don’t think that this is so. I also had a way of confusing the “Golden Hind” with the “Golden Horde”. The Golden Horde was the army of cavalry lead by Genghis Khan.

  4. There was a rugged Soviet attack helicopter, the Mi-24, which received the NATO call name of the “Hind”, , and this was/is a notorious weapon, especially from its use during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Everyone who knows about that brutal conflict knows about the Hind helicopter gunship. It was used to attack Afghan freedom fighters who had no antiaircraft weapons.
    That is, until the government of the United States started giving the Afghans an assortment of shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missiles. These started with the American “Redeye” missile, and then continued with Soviet “Strella” missiles that had been either captured or bought on the “black market” of weapons, and then they concluded with the American “Stinger” missile – one much better than either the Redeye or the Strella.
    The Stinger missile, in the hands of the Afghans, also plays an important role in Tom Clancy’s novel “The Cardinal of the Kremlin”. (It is worth reading, just as is “Red Storm Rising”, and “The Sum of All Fears”.
    Genghis Khan, with his Golden Horde, skirted the northern border of Afghanistan on his way to invade places like Kazakhstan, the Ukraine, Romania, and Hungary, and on into Austria to lay siege to Vienna.
    Then centuries later, Leonid Brezhnev and his cronies used Hind helicopters to attack Afghanistan with. Centuries before, Sir Francis Drake had sailed the Golden Hind around Cape Horn and then around the world.
    Other than coincidences, there does not seem to be much connection between the Golden Horde, the Golden Hind, the deadly Mi-24 Hind helicopter, and Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan.
    (Afghanistan is a landlocked country, and Sir Francis Drake never went there at all!)
    All Soviet helicopters got code names starting with “H”, just as bombers got names starting with “B” (e.g. the Bear), fighters got names starting with “F” (e.g. the Foxbat), attack missiles got names starting with “S” (e.g. the Scud and the Satan), air-to-air missile got names starting with “A” (e.g. the Atoll), and surface-to-air missiles got names starting with “G” (e.g. the Grail).

  5. I think the Hind helicopter is so-called after a series of British military aircraft. In that case, as in the Golden Hind, the hind employed is a word for a female red deer. Red deer are huge, almost as big as an American elk, and can be dangerous, so the military use makes more sense than it initially seems to. That hind comes via Old English from a different IE root than that of the article’s subject,

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