"Love" in tennis

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Mar 19 08:55:27 UTC 2001

At 10:42 AM -0500 3/19/01, Nichols, Wendalyn wrote:
>Surely the 'nothing' sense of "love" is an extension of the 17th-century
>expression "playing for love" -- 'play without any wager; play for nothing'?
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Bapopik at AOL.COM [mailto:Bapopik at AOL.COM]
>Sent: Saturday, March 17, 2001 7:59 PM
>Subject: "Love" in tennis
>    THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, weekend section on Friday, had a piece on the
>etymology of the "love" score ("nothing" or "zero") in tennis.  One theory
>is that it´s French (l'oeuf?), similar to the "bagel."

I agree; I think we discussed this in some detail a while (several
years) back, and concluded that--to paraphrase Tina Turner--what's
l'oeuf got to with it?  Rather, as I recall, it does seem to be
related to the general metaphor Wendalyn mentions.

>HORNILLA--chimney receptacle used in gold-making, at the Gold Museum in San
>Jose.  Not in OED.
And it doesn't refer to my daughter?  Hmph.


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