General English


  • noun a game played on a rectangular court by two players or two pairs of players, who use rackets to hit a ball back and forth over a net stretched across a marked-out court


  • noun a game for two players or two pairs of players who use rackets to hit a ball backwards and forwards over a net

Origin & History of “tennis”

The earliest recorded English forms of the word tennis include tenetz, teneys, and tenes. these suggest that it probably came from tenez, the imperative plural of Old French tenir ‘hold’, hence ‘receive’, supposedly shouted by the server to his opponent as a warning to get ready to receive the ball. The word originally referred, of course, to what is now known as real tennis (in which the real does simply mean ‘real’; it has no connection, as is often claimed, with obsolete English real ‘royal’); it was first applied to the newly invented outdoor game in 1874, in the compound lawn tennis, and this was soon shortened to simply tennis.