no l'oeuf lost

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Sep 9 01:29:23 UTC 2009

The Times falls for an etymythology.  In an otherwise fun Sunday
puzzle ("Six Degrees of Trivia"), one clue refers to "a French
dynasty whose fall involve a famous oath sworn in the setting of
another [sc. other than NFL football] sport..."--the Serment du Jeu
de Paume or tennis-court oath, nothing wrong with that (as far as I
know)--but then it continues "...Its [sc., that of tennis] term for
"zero" comes from what French word?"  To which the "correct" answer
is, yup, "l'oeuf", which no reputable source the author Bob Harris
could have checked would have confirmed as the source for "love" as a
tennis score.  Makes for a nice story, though, given the shape of the
egg and the zero, goose eggs, and all.


The American Dialect Society -

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