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Interesting Etymologies 9.1 : Games

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

"Hello again Word Lovers!"

This week we dive into words that we have come to us through games!

Chess & Draughts

An obvious starting point is a game previously mentioned in Interesting Etymologies 7.2, Chess. Charly is keen to point out that it is commonly believed Chess comes from Arabic but actually has roots in Persian and Sanskrit. The word "Check" has an unsurprising connection and "Checkmate" is traced through French to Arabic and Persian to mean....."the King is dead".


Requiring a little more physical exertion is Darts, from Darsus in Latin but the game and the word is believed to have been adopted by the Romans from the Gauls.

Badminton & Rugby

Two quintessentially English past times both named after the place where the game was invented. Charly quickly assures us the origin story of Rugby is a myth as well as looking at the origin of both Rugby and Badminton and their meanings.

Tennis & Squash

Tennis, as widely understood, comes from French but Squash is named because of the squishy quality of the ball. Charly refuses to take that as a final answer and digs into the etymology of the words "Squash" and "Crush" to satisfy his etymological interest.


We disentangle the confusion between the three distinct games and the different etymological heritage of the words and cultural heritage of the sports which leads to an exploration of Croquet, Polo and Hockey. The hitty sticky game turns out to be ridiculously ancient.

Tune in for more fun and games next week when we delve into the etymology of the greatest sports, football and cricket.

This programme is also available on our podcast channel Bulldogz Dead Air Our podcast is available on all major platforms, find more information at Anchor FM

Explore the full Interesting Etymologies series archive here

Explore the full Interesting Etymologies series archive here


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