“Why are zero scores in Tennis called love?” Good question. (OK, it’s a little “Sports Illustrated Jr.” but again it beats answering inquiries about odd intimate acts. Seriously? We thought the “Monkey Wrench” was just some custom tennis serve, mmkay?)

Why are zero tennis scores called 'love'?

For those of you who are not into sports, some background. In sports such as tennis, badminton, table tennis and squash, the score starts at "Love all". A player remains in love until he scores a point.

Cloudy origins

The origins are cloudy and conflicting. There are a few different possibilities.

Some claim the French language could very well be involved. In fact, the French language is a part of two of the more popular theories.

One theory says it is possibly of “French origin. While this claim is said by dictionary.com to be "unsubstantiated", it is also thought to be the most clever theory. After all, the sport of tennis first became popular in France. Arguably the most interesting school of thought is that it comes from the French term for the egg (l'ouef ) since a normal egg looks much like the number zero.”

The oblong numeral zero on the game scoreboard looked a lot like an egg. It was referred to as “l'oeuf,” French for “the egg.” Thus, when the sport of tennis was brought to the United States, Americans simply mispronounced it as “love.”

Another theory involving French.

“Love” might also come from the French phrase “l'heure” (in English “the hour”). It could also have derived from a Dutch phrase: “iets voor lof doen” which essentially means doing something just for the praise and for “zero” money. Yet another theory on the origins of the use of love comes from the acceptance that, at the start of a match, when the scores are still zero, the players still have "love for each other."

Another popular theory, cited in “The Guinness Book of Tennis Facts & Feats and Fifteen Love” is that the tennis term “love” was born of the English phrase: “neither for love nor for money”, meaning nothing.

A final albeit less exciting theory, promoted by the Oxford Dictionaries website, is that the use of “love” in the sport harkens back to the 1600s when people first used the expression “play for love,” The term is used in exactly the same way in some card games and even the occasional UK football commentary.

Why are zero scores in tennis called 'love'? Now you know.

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