They are the sort of terms that you hear the commentators mentioning all of the time during sporting events, but just what are the origins of some of those obscure terms they use ? Just why is the point 40-40 called 'deuce' in tennis and why does golf seemingly have a fixation with ornithological terms for the number of shots under a par on a particular hole that a golfer takes ?

Wimbledon umpires were forever shouting out 'deuce' during the matches, yet it seems a little odd to use the term in the first place. Indeed the scoring system in general seems to be a law unto itself, baffling such leading exponents as Billie Jean King and Andre Agassi (among others no doubt) during their tennis careers as to how it came about.


The term 'love' seems to have many possibilities, ranging from an English mispronunciation of the French word for egg, ie. L'oeuf, because an egg looks like a zero to a Dutch or Flemish word, "lof," meaning honour (ie. doing something for nothing more than honour).

Following 'love', the points seems to jump in a fairly sensible manner (initially) if you consider them from the point of view of a clock face with the points 15, 30, 45 and 60 for the four points needed to win the game. That of course is fine for 15 and 30, but why is the next point at 40 ?

Some people have postulated that it is simply because 40 is one syllable less and thus easier to announce than 45. Others favour a more historical basis, such that when a game reaches deuce a player needs two points to win. Hence the clock analogy comes back into play, as it moves first to 40, then at deuce it can proceed to 50 and on to 60.


That leads us quite nicely on to the term 'deuce' itself, which seems to have a more straightforward explanation that has been accepted.It seems to be a term that the English borrowed from French, since 'deux' means two, as in two points needed to win and is a derivation from that.

Interestingly enough, although tennis terms seem to have a tie back to the French language, the French do not seem to always use such as 'deuce', instead preferring "égalité," meaning equality.

Golf seems to have its own fixation with odd terminology in its scoring system. Instead of one under, two under or three under par, they often refer to a golfer shooting a birdie, eagle or albatross. Indeed, the term 'bogey' is also used for a shot over par, which seems to date back to the end of the 19th century and something said at the Great Yarmouth club in England at the time by a player when they referred to the 'bogey man'. At the time there was a popular music hall song "Hush! Hush! Hush! Here comes the bogey man",so the term seemed to quickly gain favour on golf courses in England.


As for the bird references to shots under par, the term 'birdie' seems to relate to the American 19th century slang term of "bird", implying anything excellent.

"Eagle" then becomes a slightly easier term to explain, especially for American golfers where it is the national symbol, as two under par could be referred to as a big birdie or big bird, hence 'eagle' would seem rational from that viewpoint. It then becomes only natural to continue the bird theme for a score of three under par as being an "albatross", given that such a score is rare to behold, as is the bird the albatross itself. It could just as easily have been referred to as a 'dodo', but albatross seems to have been given more common usage.

One thing is for sure though, even though many have put forward their own explanations......nothing is ever completely definitive as to the origins of sporting terms ! #Television #Athletics