Anyone for tennis?
We are now well and truly into the first week of Wimbledon, the third Grand Slam event of the tennis calendar, and provided the weather holds, a feast of tennis beckons, with a plentiful supply of the traditional strawberries and cream of course.
Keeping it real
The modern game has its origins in real tennis, a game with its own unfamiliar vocabulary, unless you are a player. Terms such as hazard, dedans, nick, and tambour, while being unremarkable to those involved in the game, all sound quite different to the terminology of the game we now know simply as tennis. That was originally known as lawn tennis and emerged in Britain in the 1870s. Surfaces other than grass have since been introduced, and tennis is how the game is now known.
What’s the score?
Tennis has a particular nomenclature, some of which it shares with other racquet sports, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the seemingly complex terminology of the scoring system. The most striking term is probably love, used to signify a score of zero (in all parts of the game bar the tiebreaker where the more familiar zero is used). The first three points scored by a particular player are called fifteen, thirty, and forty respectively. When each player has scored 3 points in one game, and therefore the scores are tied, deuce is called. This term, which comes from the Old French deus meaning ‘two’, has its origins in the rule that a player must then win two successive points in the game to win. Whoever wins the next point will go to advantage; if he or she wins the next point, the game is won. However, if the player loses that second point, we return to deuce. Confused? You just might be.
Game, set, and match
So while the players begin their knock-ups, we can expect a sea of drop shots, forehands, and volleys, with the odd smash and lob thrown in for good measure, keeping the ballgirls, ballboys, and umpires busy. Let’s hope for fewer double faults and plenty of aces and cross-court winners. And, if we may be allowed to be partisan for just one moment, let’s hope for the first British-born singles champions since Fred Perry and Virginia Wade.
The opinions and other information contained in the Oxford Dictionaries Online blog posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of OUP.
- Competitions and quizzes (36)
- Dictionaries and lexicography (161)
- English in use (378)
- Grammar and writing help (66)
- Interactive features (48)
- OED Appeals (4)
- Other languages (66)
- Varieties of English (40)
- Word origins (203)
- Word trends and new words (123)