Did you know that it is likely that tennis was first played in France. The ball used to be hit with the palm, and started off as the ‘jeu de paume’. When rackets were introduced, it was renamed ‘tenez’ (pronounced tuh-nay) from the vous form of the French verb ‘tenir’ meaning ‘hold’, ‘take’, ‘there you go’.
During the the French Revolution, many courts were destroyed or decommissioned and the game lost popularity in France. However, it had already spread to England where it gained popularity. The English continued to use ‘tenez’ each time they hit the ball. Spoken of course with an English accent, it sounded more like tennis……which eventually it became.
An oeuf is an oeuf!
The origin of ‘love’ meaning ‘nil’ in tennis scoring may well have come from the French word l’oeuf – an egg, based on its shape resembling a zero. This is similar to the expression ‘out for a duck’ , its full form being ‘out for a duck’s egg’, the duck’s egg being the large zero (0) recorded on the scoreboard.