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This should be split up into noun, verb, and interjection. Etymology is from Arabic and/or Persian "shah mat" = "the king is dead" but I'd like to know exactly before adding it. Hippietrail 14:42, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Shah mat is a purely Persian word and has nothing to do with Arabic. Why so many people in the West mix the Indo-European language which Persian is with a completely and genetically different language namely the Semitic Arabic tigether!!! -- 15:38, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The two languages borrow from each other and English has borrowings from both also. It could be that English borrowed the term from Arabic which borrowed it from Persian. Anyway it's hard to find the truth when so many articles on the etymology of chess terms make the mistake just as you say. — Hippietrail 02:55, 23 Aug 2004 (UTC)
They do borrow from each other but Shah maat are the words derived directly from Old Persian before any Arabic influence. Remember, before the Islamic conquests much of the Middle East spoke Iranian languages under various Persian Empires.
Thanks. DCDuring TALK 16:53, 17 June 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Is that Latin translation for real?? RSvK 03:49, 23 Aug 2004 (UTC

The first definition of the noun form should be revised. Checkmate is indeed the conclusive victory of a game of chess, but it occurs not only when the king is in check and he cannot move out of it, but also when no other move achieves that effect (in some cases the king has no moves but the check can be interposed or averted by capture by another piece). DYShock 06:15, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I dont think the Persian original means "the king is amazed". It should be something in the lines of "the king is helpless/defeated/dead". 2003:E8:6BD1:1691:D16B:B039:D906:1F03 21:44, 29 January 2019 (UTC)[reply]


Both Etymonline ( and Merriam-Webster ( argue for a different etymology.

Etymonline: from Arabic shah mat "the king died" (see check (n.1)), which according to Barnhart is a misinterpretation of Persian mat "be astonished" as mata "to die," mat "he is dead." Hence Persian shah mat, if it is the ultimate source of the word, would be literally "the king is left helpless, the king is stumped."

Merriam-Webster: from Arabic shāh māt, from Persian, literally, the king is left unable to escape