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Rochambeau

[ raw-shahn-boh ]
/ rɔ ʃɑ̃ˈboʊ /
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noun
Jean Bap·tiste Do·na·tien de Vi·meur [zhahn ba-teest daw-na-syan duh vee-mœr], /ʒɑ̃ baˈtist dɔ naˈsyɛ̃ də viˈmœr/, Count de, 1725–1807, French general: marshal of France 1791–1807; commander of the French army in the American Revolution.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

what else does Rochambeau mean?

One, two, three, shoot!

Rochambeau is an alternate name for the folk game rock-paper-scissors.

It is also the title of Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau (1725–1807), the commander of French forces in North America during the American Revolution.

How is Rochambeau pronounced?

[ roh-sham-boh ]

What are other forms of Rochambeau?

Roshambo

What are some other words related to Rochambeau?

  • Rock-paper-scissors
  • George Washington
  • Alexander Hamilton 

Where does Rochambeau come from?

Although many stories have tried to link Rochambeau the game with Rochambeau the general, it appears that the two are unconnected.

The Comte de Rochambeau played a central role in the American victory in the Revolutionary War, but the game of rock-paper-scissors was not referred to as Rochambeau until at least 1935–36 when it appears in the Handbook for Recreation Leaders, a compilation of popular children’s games collected by Ella Gardner on behalf of the Children’s Bureau in Washington.

In the book, Rochambeau is described in two-player and multiplayer forms, and specifies that the lead-up to throwing a hand sign—rock, paper, or scissors, with rock beating scissors, paper beating rock, and scissors beating paper—should be accompanied by a chant of “Ro-cham-beau!”

Although there is no ironclad explanation for how the game received its name, some historians maintain that, since the game has a history in Japan, Gardner may have been rendering its Japanese name, jankenpon. After World War II, the game was increasingly referred to as Rochambeau, with the Handbook as the likely source—and the name of the French commander influencing its spelling.

Outside schoolyard pastimes or ways for people to settle minor disputes (e.g., who has to take out the trash or gets the last slice of pizza), there was a World Series of Roshambo in the 2000s.

The term Rochambeau has also been seen in popular culture. It was humorously alluded to, as Roshambo, in a 1998 episode of the adult cartoon South Park. Less boyishly, a fashion company called Rochambeau launched in 2011 in New York City. It has also inspired the name of a record label and fighting-based computer game.

The Comte de Rochambeau notably appears in a line from the 2015 hit musical Hamilton, which depicts the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton: “It’s either that or meet the business end of a bayonet / The code word is ‘Rochambeau,’ dig me?” True to history in the show, Hamilton tells his troops during the Revolutionary War to coordinate their movements using the code word Rochambeau, a reference to the French commander and ally of General Washington’s.

How is Rochambeau used in real life?

The historical figure Rochambeau was and continues to be widely recognized in tributes to the American Revolution. Working alongside George Washington, Rochambeau helped secure American independence from the British using French military forces.

The name is still inextricably linked to rock-paper-scissors, as evidenced by @RochambeauBot, a Twitter account which plays out games of Rochambeau. South Park fans will also refer to Rochambeau (or Roshambo).

More examples of Rochambeau:

“I’ll match each of your submissions against every other submission in a series of best-two-out-of-three rock-paper-scissors matches. Whoever wins the most matches will be crowned Rochambeau Raja of Riddler Nation—and there may be a little prize, too.”

—Oliver Roeder, FiveThirtyEight, June 2018

How to use Rochambeau in a sentence

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