Humans have been playing games in one form or another since the dawn of civilisation. Over the centuries, archaeologists and historians have uncovered all manner of gaming pastimes in historical sites across the globe. In Ur, Iraq, for example, an early version of a board game dating all the way back to 3000 BC was discovered.  

It’s also well known that Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans enjoyed a board game or two. Meanwhile, in the Middle Ages, wealthy Saxons played games like chess or chequers to pass the time.  

With the history of popular games being so long, it’s natural that the rules, settings and even the names of games have evolved. There are some games, however, that need a bit of explanation when it comes to the names we know them as now.  

The Name Origins of Board Games  

Some board games, like many other popular pastimes, have pretty simple names that it’s easy to trace the origins of. Life, for instance, is pretty straightforward even though its original name was The Checkered Game of Life. Then there are others that really do boggle the mind.  

If you’re a fan of the paranormal, you’ve probably come across a ouija board or two in your time. Although its name seems like an obvious combination of the French and German words for yes – oui and ja respectively – the inventor of the board has a different story to tell.  

According to Elijah Bond, his sister in law had the idea for the name after a real-life encounter with a ghost. Helene Peters made contact with the spirit realm and, when asked what the board should be called, someone spelt out ‘o-u-i-j-a’ and even claimed it meant good luck.  

Hands up who has a love-hate relationship with Jenga? This infuriating yet compelling game keeps us entertained for hours and there’s a similarly entertaining story behind the origins of its name.  

Leslie Scott is the renowned creator of the game and, knowing she wanted to find a unique word for her game, she chose the Swahili word for ‘build’, Jenga. Scott actually created the game when she was living in East Africa, so the name was a perfect fit. 

Dice games are as old as board games, so it’s only fitting that we talk about that classic dice game, Yahtzee. Interestingly, when the game was first concocted by a Canadian couple in the early 1950s they – rather unimaginatively – dubbed it The Yacht Game.  

When Edmund Lowe got his hands on it for trademarking, however, he knew that the game needed a shorter and snappier title and so it was that ‘Yahtzee’ was chosen.  

The Name Origins of Casino Games  

What is it about casino games that have stood the test of time? While many other games have fallen from general use through the centuries, casino games – some of which have existed for over 500 years – are still going strong.  

Classics like roulette and blackjack have even received a twenty-first-century makeover. These games are the staples of the iGaming industry and now people can enjoy them online at digital platforms as well as brick and mortar venues.  

While it’s common knowledge that the name roulette is French for ‘little wheel’, fewer people know just how the name blackjack came about.  

Legend has it that, for the first couple of hundred years of its life, blackjack was known by the moniker ‘vingt-et-un’ instead. According to historians, the variation that became popular in the French casinos of the 1800s and subsequently catapulted the game to global fame was a version of the Spanish game, ‘veintiuna’.   By the time the game made its way to US shores in the 19th century, ‘vingt-et-un’ was dropped in favour of the more succinct ‘blackjack’. As for the exact reasons why, two centuries later it’s still a mystery. Most historians agree, however, that it probably had something to do with an early 10 to 1 bonus that was awarded for an ace of spades and a blackjack card

Author

Shashank Jain, founder of good-name, a young and energetic entrepreneur has always been fond of technology. His liking for technology made him go for engineering in computers. During his studies, he learned & worked on different computer languages & OS including HBCD, Linux, etc. He also has a keen interest in ethical hacking.

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