Click to Buy Best Sellers in Sports & Outdoors on Amazon!

Why is Zero (0) Called “Love” in Tennis?



Tennis, with its unique scoring system and rich lexicon, has long fascinated fans and players alike. One peculiar aspect of tennis terminology is the use of the word “love” to represent a score of zero. This unconventional linguistic twist adds charm and intrigue to the game. In this blog post, we will explore the origins and theories behind why zero is called “love” in tennis.

Romantic Theories

One popular theory suggests that the term “love” originated from the French word “l’oeuf,” meaning “egg.” In the early days of tennis, the scoreboard was often shaped like an egg, and the shape of the number zero resembled an egg as well. It is believed that players began referring to a score of zero as “l’oeuf,” which gradually morphed into “love.”

Another romantic theory proposes that the term “love” emerged from the idea that players at zero were “playing for love” or “playing for the love of the game.” This notion reflects the passion and dedication that players bring to the sport, irrespective of the score.

Etymological Origins

Beyond the realm of romance, etymology provides another perspective on the origin of “love” in tennis scoring. Linguistic historians suggest that “love” in tennis may have derived from the Old English word “lof,” which means “praise” or “honor.” In this context, calling a score of zero “love” may have been a way to convey admiration for a player’s clean slate, devoid of any points against them.

Tennis Lady with Love

Psychological Theories

Yet another theory delves into the psychological aspect of tennis scoring. It suggests that “love” symbolizes the absence of fear or anxiety. When a player has zero points, they can play with a carefree and relaxed mindset, devoid of the pressure associated with being behind in the score. The term “love” could, therefore, represent the freedom to play with joy and without inhibition.

Uniqueness and Tradition

Whatever the true origin of “love” in tennis may be, it has become an intrinsic part of the game’s lexicon and adds to its distinctive character. The term has stood the test of time and has become entrenched in the tradition and culture of tennis.

Beyond Tennis

Interestingly, the use of “love” to represent a score of zero is not exclusive to tennis. It is also utilized in other racquet sports such as badminton and squash. This usage highlights the enduring influence and reach of tennis terminology across various racket-based games.


The use of “love” to represent a score of zero in tennis remains shrouded in historical conjecture and linguistic evolution. Whether derived from French origins, conveying a sense of passion and admiration, or signifying freedom from fear, the term “love” has become an endearing and enduring element of the sport. Regardless of its precise origins, it adds to the charm and uniqueness of tennis, captivating players and fans alike. So, the next time you hear the word “love” in a tennis match, appreciate the linguistic quirk that has become an integral part of the game’s rich tapestry.