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  1. a game played on a chessboard by two people who maneuver sixteen pieces each according to rules governing movement of the six kinds of pieces (pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, king), the object being to bring the opponent's king into checkmate.

Origin of chess1

1150–1200; Middle English < Old French esches, plural of eschec check1


noun, plural chess·es.
  1. any of several weedy species of bromegrass, especially Bromus secalinus.


noun, plural chess, chess·es.
  1. one of the planks forming the roadway of a floating bridge.

Origin of chess3

1425–75; late Middle English ches tier, layer < ?
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for chess

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I like to look at an affair of this sort as a chess problem, and to set myself to solve it.

    The Avenger

    E. Phillips Oppenheim

  • "She probably has a chess board always at her elbow," Sally suggested.

    The Dominant Strain

    Anna Chapin Ray

  • A couple of hours afterwards I returned to the cottage for chess as usual.


    Joseph Conrad

  • Come, come in, well take a Game at Chess before Dinner, if we can.

  • I'd like you to give me a game at chess to-night, if you're not otherwise engaged.

    Despair's Last Journey

    David Christie Murray

British Dictionary definitions for chess


  1. a game of skill for two players using a chessboard on which chessmen are moved. Initially each player has one king, one queen, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, and eight pawns, which have different types of moves according to kind. The object is to checkmate the opponent's king

Word Origin

C13: from Old French esches, plural of eschec check (at chess); see check


  1. US a less common name for rye-brome

Word Origin

C18: of unknown origin


noun plural chess or chesses
  1. a floorboard of the deck of a pontoon bridge

Word Origin

C15 (in the sense: layer, tier): from Old French chasse frame, from Latin capsa box
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for chess


13c., from Old French esches "chessmen," plural of eschec "game of chess, chessboard; checkmate" (see check (n.)), from the key move of the game. Modern French still distinguishes échec "check, blow, rebuff, defeat," from plural échecs "chess."

The original word for "chess" is Sanskrit chaturanga "four members of an army" -- elephants, horses, chariots, foot soldiers. This is preserved in Spanish ajedrez, from Arabic (al) shat-ranj, from Persian chatrang, from the Sanskrit word.

The chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chessboard, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem. [Marcel Duchamp, address to New York State Chess Association, Aug. 30, 1952]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper