Why Is the Word Love Used in Tennis?

Tennis players never say a player’s score is “zero” or “nothing” when that player hasn’t scored a point in a game. They say “love” instead. No one knows for sure how this word came into use, but it probably happened like this:

Centuries ago, French tennis players drew zeroes on their scoresheets that were oval in shape, and looked like eggs. So, the zero became known as l’oeuf, which means “egg” in French.

This French word sounds very much like “love,” so players in England began to call the zero “love,” and that word has been used ever since.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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