A Conversation for Zero

love l'oeuf

Post 1

TRiG (Ireland) A dog, so bade in office

I vaguely remember hearing that this one was actually an urban myth.

I'm afraid I don't have a reference for that.

TRiG.smiley - smiley

love l'oeuf

Post 2

Icy North

Hmmm, Just looked it up in the OED:
Love n.

9. In various competitive games of skill, esp. tennis, squash, bridge, and whist: no score, (a score of) nothing, nil. Freq. in various formulaic expressions indicating the score of two contestants in a game (as fifteen love, six love, etc.).

[Perhaps originally developed from the expression for love at Phrases 1e. For a variety of other suggestions see American Notes & Queries 2 (1963) 8-9, B. Oreström in B. Odenstedt & G. Persson (eds.) Instead of Flowers: Papers in Honour of Mats Rydén on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday (1989) 175-7.]

Phrase 1e is "1e. for love: (a) without stakes being wagered, for nothing (applied to the practice of playing a competitive game for the pleasure of playing); (b) (in extended use) for pleasure rather than profit (colloq.). "

I'd need to search American Notes & Queries to find out what's in there, (I'm not sure what that final reference is...)

I'd have expected the OED to mention l'oeuf, so I guess you could well be right.

love l'oeuf

Post 3

Icy North

Just looked up the AN&Q reference:

Briefly, it lists a reference to the connection between the tennis 'love' and 'l'oeuf' in Hixson & Colodny 'Word Ways' (1939).

It mentions the Icelandic word 'lyf', meaning 'very little' ...

but it seems to come down on the side of 'love' deriving from 'playing for love or money', ie zero in monetary terms. This was first used in Hoyle's 'A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist' (1742).

It also mentions two further unlikely suspects - the Scottish 'luff' (hand) and the Dutch 'loof' (weather-gauge).

Yes, I think I agree that the derivation from the phrase 'love or money' via whist sounds more plausible.

I'll think about an update...

love l'oeuf

Post 4

Icy North

Update submitted to Editorial Feedback: F47997?thread=6204966

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