Why is the score 0-0 called Love All in table tennis

Table Tennis Score: Why 0 is called “Love”?

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In football, the score of 0 is called as “Nil”. For example, when England wins France 2-0, it’s called “Two-nil”, but not “Two-Love”. But in table tennis, or in other racquet games (like tennis), the score is called “Love”. Why?

The Origin of “Love” in table tennis

Firstly, I want to explain to you another example: “May Day”, “May Day, May Day”. Maybe you have seen some American action film, the pilot often says “May Day, May Day” for the last signal for help. But why “May Day”? In fact, it has the origin in French, “May Day” is pronounced very similar to “M’aider” (“Help Me” in French). So then, “May Day” has become the convention signal which signifies “Help Me”, a distress signal.

May Day is French M'aider (Help me)
May Day is French M’aider (Help me)

“Mayday” is easier to be heard than “Help Me” prevent it’s being mistaken for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions.

It shares the same principle for “Love” in table tennis, tennis or in other racquet sport. “Love” is nicer to call than “Zero”. In French, an egg is “L’Œuf”, which is pronounced very close to “Love”. That’s why “Love” is the score 0 in table tennis.


“La Vie Parisienne” 1926! People continues to use French world in racket sport
“La Vie Parisienne” 1926! People continue to use French world in racket sport

0 = “Egg” = “L’Œuf”  (French) Pronounced as “Love”.

“Love All” is the score of 0-0

When you watch ITTF Live, you could hear the umpire often says at the beginning of the set (this is the final match of China Open 2019 – Ma Long vs Lin Gaoyuan):


Ma Long versus Lin Gaoyuan. First Game. Lin Gaoyuan to serve. “Love All”.


That means “0-0. Ma Long to serve“. And then, if Ma Long wins the point, the score is said: “one – love”, “two – love”, “three – love”.


Why is the score 0-0 called Love All in table tennis
Why is the score 0-0 called Love All in table tennis? Does it mean “Love for all players”? 😀


However, do you know this? In table tennis, you should avoid winning someone “eleven – love”? It’s not very polite to do that.

But personally, I really love the meaning “Love All” is “Table Tennis is for all. We all love this sport”. 🙂

There is so good funny joke about the score of 0 in table tennis. I prefer this one:

My coach says to me in his first table tennis lesson “Love is nothing in table tennis”. 😀 This is so true.

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2 years ago

As always another very informative post. Thanks again for this website and all your efforts to improve the game of table tennis.

2 years ago

Four-Love 🙂

2 years ago

Thanks a lot Coach for such a deep philological explanation of the term “love”. But I am not quite sure, that to win the set with the score 11-0 is somewhat the player should avoid. Liu Shiwen beat Ding Ning with such a score in one set in Budapest and didn’t seem to be worried by that at all. It was clearly seen that she wanted to square all accounts with DN. And she did in style.

Reply to  Yuri
2 years ago

For CNT, even with a single point, DN can make a comeback. So no chance for a 10-1.

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