See also: Chess


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A chess game
A chessboard in initial configuration


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

Etymology 1Edit

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(šâh, shah, king), from Middle Persian 𐭬𐭫𐭪𐭠(mlkʾ /šāh/), from Old Persian 𐏋 ( /xšāyaθiya/).

Displaced native game and name Old English cyningtæfl ("king's board") with the continental game (common chess) and French name ("chess").

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 termsEdit

See alsoEdit

Chess pieces in English · chess pieces, chessmen (see also: chess) (layout · text)
king queen rook, castle bishop knight pawn

Etymology 2Edit

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 3Edit

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, G. & C. Merriam, 1913