Sporting Vernacular 44. REPLAY

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WEST HAM were hardly jumping for joy when they were ordered on Saturday to replay, or play again, their Worthington Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa after fielding an ineligible player. Etymologically, they should have been, for though the origins of "play" are obscure, it had a Middle Dutch relative, pleien, to "dance about, or jump for joy". The underlying meaning appears to be "to make rapid movements for purposes of recreation."

Some sources cite various words before 1200 as being related, notably plage, ploge, pleige, pleowe and plohe, which were found in Ancrene Riwle and Layamon's Chronicle of Britain with meanings of games or martial sports, as well as childrens' games and general tomfoolery. Beowulf uses the West Saxon plega, denoting exercise, recreation or quick movements.

Should the Hammers protest any further, their attention should be directed to the first citing of "replay" in the OED, from the magazine Truth in 1884: "Under these circumstances ... the tie should certainly be replayed."

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