Etymology
Advertisement
Advertisement
pool (n.2)

game similar to billiards, 1848, originally (1690s) the name of a card game played for collective stakes, from pool "collective stakes of players in a game," which is from French poule "stakes, booty, plunder," literally "hen," from Old French poille "hen, young fowl," from Vulgar Latin *pulla, fem. of Latin pullus "young animal," especially "young fowl," from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little."

Perhaps the original notion is from jeu de la poule, supposedly a game in which people threw things at a chicken and the player who hit it, won it, which speaks volumes about life in the Middle Ages. The notion behind the word, then, is "playing for money." The connection of "hen" and "stakes" is also present in Spanish polla and Walloon paie.

By 1868 it came to mean "combination of a number of persons, each staking a sum of money on the success of a horse in a race, a contest in a game, etc., the money to be divided among the successful bettors," thus also "collective stakes" in betting. The sense of "common reservoir of resources" is from 1917. Meaning "group of persons who share duties or skills" (typist pool, etc.) is from 1928. From 1933 as short for football pool in wagering.

Pool shark is from 1898. The phrase dirty pool "underhanded or unsportsmanlike conduct," especially in politics (1951), seems to belong here now, but the phrase dirty pool of politics, with an image of pool (n.1) is recorded from 1871 and was in use early 20c.

Related entries & more