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See also: Chess


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A chess game
A chessboard in initial configuration


  • enPR: chĕs, IPA(key): /t͡ʃɛs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛs

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English ches, chesse, from Old French eschés, plural of eschec, from Medieval Latin scaccus, from Arabic شَاه(šāh, king in chess), from Persian شاه(šāh, shah, king), from Middle Persian 𐭬𐭫𐭪𐭠(mlkʾ /šāh/), from Old Persian 𐏋 ( /xšāyaθiya/). Compare German Schach and Italian scacchi. Compare French échecs (chess) and its descendants: Catalan escacs and Dutch schaak. More at check and shah (king of Persia or Iran).


chess (usually uncountable, plural chesses)

  1. A board game for two players with each beginning with sixteen chess pieces moving according to fixed rules across a chessboard with the objective to checkmate the opposing king.
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Chess pieces in English · chess pieces, chessmen (see also: chess) (layout · text)
♚ ♛ ♜ ♝ ♞ ♟
king queen castle, rook bishop knight pawn

Etymology 2[edit]

Origin uncertain; perhaps linked to Etymology 1, above, from the sense of being arranged in rows or lines.


chess (plural chesses)

  1. (now chiefly US) Any of several species of grass in the genus Bromus, generally considered weeds.
    • 2007, Michael Chabon, Gentlemen of the Road, Sceptre 2008, p. 59:
      Hobbled, loudly gourmandizing the dry chess grass, they were guarded by a pair of dismounted soldiers in long, dusty coats [...].

Etymology 3[edit]

Compare French chassis (a framework of carpentry).


chess (plural chesses)

  1. (military, chiefly in the plural) One of the platforms, consisting of two or more planks dowelled together, for the flooring of a temporary military bridge.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Wilhelm to this entry?)
    • (Can we date this quote by Farrow and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Each chess consists of three planks.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for chess in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)