I've repeated this explanation
of the origins of tennis scoring
so many times,
that I finally decided to put it on the site!
Since the game of tennis started
as the French "Jeu de Paume" ("game of the palm"),
it is not too far fetched to believe that "love" (or zero)
came from the French word "L'oeuf" (pronounced "Luff" or "Loof"),
meaning, "the egg", became the "zero" part of modern tennis' scoring,
just as English-speakers refer to a zero score as a "goose egg"
(you may ignore any other explanations
you may hear concerning the tennis term, "love",
as unsubstantiated, undocumented, unproven, old wives' tales!).
As for the 15, 30, and 40,
it was noted in very early British squash and, subsequently, tennis,
that points tended to take 15 seconds each
(it's hard to serve over 50 mph with wood racquets strung loosely
with cow intestines (i.e., "cat gut"),
so there were scant few one- or two-shot points!
BTW, the point of the original games
was to play with, not overpower, your opponent,
as it wouldn't be "criquet" (pun intended!)
not to give the other player a chance to hit the ball!
Can you imagine such a thing?!?!).
So, why don't we say, "45" instead of "40"?
The three-syllable, 45th second, as it were,
was changed to "40", in keeping with the other, two-syllable numbers!
Amazingly simple, yes? ;)
"All" (i.e., when a game is tied, such as "30-30"
which would be announced as "30-All"),
simply means that "all" players have the same score!
Somebody stop me!!! ;)
Similarly, "deuce" (pronounced "doose"; rhymes with "goose"),
is called when the score reaches 40-40
(as opposed to announcing it as "40-All").
At that juncture in the game,
each side would need to win the game by winning two points in a row,
which was referred to as being "a deux" or, literally, "to both".
Naturally, English speakers mispronounced "deux" (roughly: "do")
as "dooks", which later became - - surprise, surprise - - "deuce"!
Isn't it amazing how the simplest explanations are the best?
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