Thursday, 19 January 2012

OED Conspiracy

On a night out, in the not too distant past, I told a friend what I believed to be the origin for the use of the word 'love' in tennis to represent a no-score. I did point out that I had not verified and, thankfully, he looked it up in the OED. The OED, apparently, points out that 'love' is used not because of an Anglicization of 'l'ouef', which was the common shape of a zero on a scoreboard. Instead, apparently, it is short for 'love of the game'. This sounded ridiculous to me and, based on this, I posited the theory that the OED was attempting to minimize the credit foreigners were given in the development.

Fast forward a few fortnights and I came across the Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins.I immediately turned to the entry for 'love'. Disappointingly my friend's story checked out but, interestingly, the book added 'see, Duck'. If you consider yourself a later thinker, you may want to pause here to work out the connection between 'love' and 'duck'. Anyway, I quickly turned the pages back towards the entry for 'duck'. According to the OED*, the use of the word 'duck' in cricket started because the zero resembled a duck egg. Hmmm ... that does sound familiar ... what do you think?

*Not as catchy as according to Hoyle.

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