Love Game

Scratch * Duck * Love * Nil

“Sport makes much use of the concept of zero, loading it with a multitude of names. There is scratch in golf, coined from ‘scratching out’ any trace on a score card. In cricket, a batsman who gets zero scores a duck–the slang for a bird that lays an egg, the shape of a zero. And that is the origin, too, of the word ‘love’ in tennis, corrupted from the English trying to copy the French for egg–oeuf. Football, meanwhile, favours the Latin nil, from nihil–nothing.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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