Grand Slam

Sporting Vernacular

Wimbledon is one of tennis's four Grand Slam events, the equivalent of golf's four majors. The term comes from card games - "slam", or "slamm", was another name for the whist-like game ruff and honours, and was also another word for trump (the OED cites "Ruffe, slam, trump" from 1621) - although how the meaning travelled from "slam", an old Scandinavian word denoting a vigorous blow or push, is unclear.

Wimbledon is one of tennis's four Grand Slam events, the equivalent of golf's four majors. The term comes from card games - "slam", or "slamm", was another name for the whist-like game ruff and honours, and was also another word for trump (the OED cites "Ruffe, slam, trump" from 1621) - although how the meaning travelled from "slam", an old Scandinavian word denoting a vigorous blow or push, is unclear.

By a few decades later, "slam" had come to denote winning all the tricks in a card game, especially whist. (From 1674 in the OED comes the following: "The Doctor hath one Card more left to play, which if it hit not, he will have a perfect slam.") From there it was a short etymological step to the notion of victory in each of a series of sporting contests. Oddly, the first citation in the OED is from DH Lawrence in 1920 - "I feel that this is the time to make our grand-slam."

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