From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Chess


English Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikibooks has more about this subject:


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 Classical 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, 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 rook, castle bishop knight pawn

Etymology 2[edit]

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, published 2008, page 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 châssis (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.
    • 1881, Thomas Wilhelm, A Military Dictionary and Gazetteer:
      the balks are laid and covered with chesses to within 1 foot of the trestle
    • 1885, Edward S. Farrow, Farrow's Military Encyclopedia; A Dictionary of Military Knowledge:
      ach chess consists of three planks.


chess”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.