The Vocabulary of Sport 

game < ME game(n) < OHG gaman “glee” 

sport < disport < L dis + portare “to carry away”

“to divert or amuse oneself” 


Chaucer. The Parlement of Foules.

And in a privee corner, in disporte,
                        Fond I Venus and hir porter Richesse.


Chaucer. Wife of Bath’s Prologue

He hadde a book that gladly nyght and dayfor his di{s}port he wolde rede alway


Milton. Paradise Lost. IX. 1041-1043

There they their fill of love and love's disport

Took largely, of their mutual guilt the seal

The solace of their sin.

Proverbs 10.23 (King James Version)

It is as sport to a fool to do mischief.

Judges 16.25 (King James Version)

And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport; and they set him between the pillars.

Evolution of the word “Sport”
(from the Oxford English Dictionary)

sport < disport < L dis + portare “to carry away”

1. a) A pleasant pastime; entertainment or amusement; recreation; diversion (1440)

b)      Amorous dalliance or intercourse (1550)

c)       Pastime afforded by the endeavour to take or kill wild animals, game or fish. (1653)

e)       In the proverbial expression the sport of kings, originally applied to war-making, but later extended to hunting and horse-racing (1668)

d.)     Participation in games or exercise, especially those of an athletic character or pursued in the open air; such games or amusements collectively (1863)

2. a)  in sport, in jest or joke, by way of fun or diversion; not seriously or in earnest (1440)

b)      Jest, jesting; mirth or merriment (1671)

Most other modern languages derived their word from the English word:

Ukranian                spórt

Modern Greek       Spor

Italian                    Sport

Gaelic                   spors

Turkish                 spor

Rumanian              Spórt

Japanese                supotsu

Dutch                    sport

Other Important Sports Terms


to remake, recreate


to turn aside, divert


struggle for victory or superiority

from Latin for “testifying or witnessing together”


struggle or rivalry

contest for prize

from Latin for “seeking together”


from Greek for “naked”


Greek word for excellence, virtue


Latin word for game or school