# Tennis scoring: love and eggs

I’m engaged in an argument with a friend about the love/zero score in tennis. Cecil’s addressed this in “Why is tennis scoring so weird?”, but my friend won’t accept this argument without more “authoritative” proof. (He’s found a few sites that give the “l’oeuf”/egg/zero explanation.) Is there any way to find the original source Cecil used to prove that “love” comes from “the love of the game” instead of “l’oeuf”?

Thank you.

Tell your friend that the word love used to indicate a zero score can be found in print from the 17th century. http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=20010129

Ask your friend what the earliest quote he/she can supply for the term l’oeuf"/egg/zero in a game sense.

Surprise! You win.

Like any good newbie I’m posting in multiple threads on multiple subjects about things that I know nothing.

What gets me is this:

CLEARLY, 30-All is the same as “deuce” (40-All), why don’t they come clean and say so?

Excellent point, TGU. I bet there are many people right now going, “Hmmm. Wonder why I never thought of that in all these years!”

I’ve always wondered why the first two points are always worth 15, when all the rest are only worth ten. Is tennis the only known game where the same achievement is rewarded with more or fewer points depending on when it occurs in a sequence?

hyjyljyj, reread Cecil’s column. The points are 0, 15, 30, 40 (replacing 45) and 60. There is no 50. 40 was just an abbreviation for 45 - one less syllable.

The Great Unwashed, I don’t know tennis, so this is a WAG, but while 30-all and “deuce” both mean “the score is tied”, they reflect totally different scores. The reason - one of the players has to get to 60 to win. 30-all is different because one player can get one score, then the other player can come back and win. Whereas 40-all means the next to score wins the set. Or am I totally missing the question?

Thanks, samclem, for the reference. It didn’t win me the argument, but it’s shut down attacks from the other side. I guess I’ve shut my opponent up, which is half the battle.

And Irishman, 40-all doesn’t mean one player can score once and win the game. The goal is to score at least four times, and to have scored at least twice more than your opponent. One way of defining the “deuce” state is “the score is tied and the first person to score twice in a row wins the game”.

(I know that’s not the clearest definition ever, but I’m a bit unfocused right now – check out a set of official tennis rules and you’ll see that TGU has a point.)

Still not fully convinced that the “l’oeuf” explanation is dead, or at least any more dead or alive than any other.
The URL given above does not locate any references, just says there are some. For “the love of the game” to be really accepted, you need references actually using it in (or close to) the concept.

However, the egg solution still has a lot going for it:
Tennis and deuce both come from modified french words.
from the 11th C on, french would have been used (the aristocracy were all french speakers)
Other old games use similar egg-related terms for 0 (Duck in cricket)

None of the above estblishes this as the real origin, but surely it needs real evidenced to kill it off?

In regard to the 30-all, 40-40(deuce) comments, those scores are definately different, even though what remains of the game, having to be two points ahead, is the same.

Why should tennis be different? Is there another sport, when the score becoming tied, simply uses the same scoring term?

I have no references for it, but speculate that in the distance past the two ahead principle was not in effect. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but college tennis often used “no-ad” scoring–the first player to win four points won the game.

I personally would like to see tennis scoring to go 50-all,60-all, etc with each succeeding deuce, as a way to alert spectators of the number of points played.

Interesting. Thanks for the lesson in scoring. So it’s like volleyball, where you have to reach a minimum score and win by two scores. I was wondering if that was the case.

But I still agree with aahala about the total score being important, too, and not just “they’re currently tied”. Though I guess the effect is the same regardless of the total score, and they goal is to win the match, not just a set. Still, when you hear tennis scores, don’t you want to hear the numbers?

So I guess tennis is not “the only place where love means nothing.”

I have wondered if the “deuce” mystery was related to the fact that “deuce” can mean “devil.”

–Nott, the confusing