Antedating of "Poker" (Card Game)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jan 2 15:25:29 UTC 2011

At 8:46 AM -0500 1/2/11, Barbara Need wrote:
>I think "lieu" might otherwise be spelled loo, or it is in all the
>Georgian and Regency romances I have read! It is a card game and
>players could make bets on the outcome (women who were poor bettors
>might be restricted to "silver loo" by their husbands.

I'm (virtually) sure you're right.  There's an extensive entry in the
OED for loo (from "lanterloo", borrowed from the French = 'orig. the
unmeaning refrain of a song popular in the 17th c.'), with cites back
to 1675 and alternate spellings like "lu".  Maybe "lieu" (which
doesn't appear with this meaning in the OED) was a nonce or
more-than-nonce eggcorn for "loo".   (This is the OED's "loo 1", not
to be confused with "loo 4", the WC, or two other homographs
referring to a velvet mask or a dust-laden wind.)


>On 1 Jan 2011, at 11:25 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>At 9:48 PM -0500 1/1/11, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
>>>poker, n.4 (OED 1836)
>>>1832 _The Globe_ (Washington, D.C.) 3 Sept. 2/5 (19th Century U.S.
>>>Newspapers)  Who is notorious for his skill and dexterity at _Lieu_,
>>>_poker_ and _Kentucky Brag?_ ... _Centre County (Pa.) Democrat._
>>>Fred Shapiro
>>Nice to know; and it looks like the readers would be expected to know
>>what poker is, so it can probably be pushed back further.  Speaking
>>of "Lieu", I don't know the eponymous card game, but I just heard a
>>radio sports talk host refer to considering something "in lieu of"
>>something else, where the intended meaning was clearly "in light of".
>>Not exactly an eggcorn, more of a malapropism, and probably not
>>unique to him--maybe the thought is that "lieu" is French for "light".
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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