Tennis Opinions

Is it Racquet or Racket?

What is the correct spelling? Do we play with a Tennis Racquet or a Tennis Racket?

Over the weekend, I put out a poll on Twitter asking how you spell the following: Racket or Racquet?

Racquet got 69% of the vote, but is that correct?

On peRFect Tennis, I've always used the word racquet, thinking this was the British English way of spelling the word, and Racket was the American English. 

It also left no doubt as to what you are talking about as racquet only has one definition.

The term racket has a couple of other meanings, such as a loud, unpleasant noise or an illegal or dishonest scheme for obtaining money. 

However, after doing some digging, this is not the case, at least for tennis. It seems that many people use racquet through a preference for how it appears when written rather than it being the correct vocabulary.

What Does The Dictionary Prefer?

dictionary

The Collin's Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary and Merriam Webster all call ‘racquet' a variant spelling of the word racket.

The Associated Press Stylebook also prefer the ‘racket' spelling, and it seems that while acceptable, the word racquet is more of an alternative form.

And finally, although not an authoritative body on the English language, the International Tennis Federation and the Lawn Tennis Association use racket(s) exclusively for all their communications.

What Does Google Say?

racket vs racquet

The chart above comes from Google Trends data and looks at the interest for a particular topic or keyword over time. I.e. how many people are searching Google for a topic or keyword.

As you can see, ‘tennis racket' receives more than double the volume of ‘interest' based on the last five years of data.

So racket is clearly the terminology that gets used more frequently amongst the general population.

The chart is for worldwide searches, but it shows the same pattern when narrowed down to any English-speaking country, proving that it's not simply North American bias skewing the data towards racket. 

Both the UK and Australia prefer tennis rackets over tennis racquets just as much as the USA, which surprised me.

What Do Tennis Racket Companies Use?

sw102 racquet

How about the tennis racket brands themselves? I decided to look at all the prominent websites and see which spelling they prefer.

I was using a UK IP address, which diverted me to the English language version of their website when available. 

  • Babolat – Rackets
  • Wilson – Rackets
  • Head – Racquets (uses Rackets for US)
  • Tecnifibre – Rackets
  • Dunlop – Rackets
  • Yonex – Racquets
  • Prince – Racquets
  • Volkl – Racquets
  • Pacific – Rackets

Where Does the Word Racquet Come From?

tecnifibre racquets

It's said that racquet originally comes a misspelling of the Old French word rachette, requette, rechete, resquette (Modern French raquette), and according to the Oxford English Dictionary Corpus, it first appeared in 1709 concerning a lacrosse stick.

I figured racquet must be the older term, but the Oxford English Dictionary has examples of ‘racket' used in sports-related context from as far back as the 16th century, predating the term racquet by a couple of hundred years.

There's also some suggestion the word could come via Italian racchetta or Spanish raqueta; both are often said to be derived from the Arabic ‘rāhat', a form of rāha which means palm of the hand.

Like the tennis scoring rules that make use of the term ‘love', the standard of evidence for the etymology of the word racquet isn't that high, so it is just as likely to come from somewhere else, but I think the misspelling of the French word is most likely.

Where is Racquet More Commonly Used?

hampton racquet

Although racket dominates in usage globally, the term racquet is still used in certain contexts, especially in the USA, where many country clubs use the term racquet for their name, e.g. the Hampton Racquet Country Club. 

This is probably due to the word racket having a couple of other meanings. The word racquet has no ambiguity about it, so you can be sure nobody thinks you're advertising organised crime services rather than tennis courts.

As my Twitter poll proved, the word racquet also looks slightly more appealing to the eye, which is an important factor for a country club that relies on status.

Interestingly, although racket is the preferred term for tennis, the word racquet is the spelling of choice for squash, badminton and, of course, racquetball.

Final Thoughts

prince racquets

In conclusion, racket is the older version that predates racquet and is regarded as the correct term for a tennis racket.

The spelling racquet is more than acceptable and is often perceived by many as the ‘better' or ‘intellectual' way of writing it, but from now on, I'm going to stick with the oldest and the one used by the ITF, and that is: racket. 

It won't be easy as I've used racquet through habit for years, but we shall see how it goes.

Which spelling do you prefer? Racket or racquet? Let me know in the comments.

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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18 Comments

  1. As a not-native speaker I would prefer racket because it’s simpler and easier to remember.
    I was probably using so far both, with no special reason. Probably using racket if replying to the post where racket was used. And the some for the other version.
    Another aspect for not-native speakers could be that racket is spelled closer to rocket and in some languages both rocket and racket have the same equivalent (in Polish it’s “rakieta” – if it’s the stick used for tennis or it’s something able to carry nuclear charge.
    Also the phonetics of racket and racquet is probably identical with racket in any variant of English, but not-native (non-native?) speaker could have more doubts about pronunciation of ´the “racquet”.
    It would be interesting to learn, how it looks (if differently) in linguistic collages like Deuglish, Franglais and similar 😉
    How it is in Latin? In Spanish it’s “racqueta” (for all racket sports, including golf!)
    How it’s i Chinese???

      1. Google translate is an idiot 😉 Reticulo is a net (maybe including tennis net). Rucheta or rocheta is the right word for the racket but also for the rocket.
        ´Tennis or tennis-like sports is quite old. Do you think, bishops or other clerks of the Roman Catholic Church didn’t play it?
        Let’s ask Pope Frances 😉

  2. A trick question! I don’t think I notice racket vs racquet when I’m reading, both words are accurate so no reason to pay attention. When I thought about it, I guessed that if I was writing I’d probably go with racket. However I looked back at something I’d written — and in fact I used racquet.

    So now I’m all mixed up 😀 But thanks Jonathan I learned something today!

  3. Interesting post, Jonathan. Racquet seems more refined. I think I have used both and not noticed too much. When I type racquet, Google underlines it and suggests racket.
    One another note, some good tennis matches at IW, especially the WTA. Not a lot of spectators, must have been nice. The prices are at their usual height. Very bad pr to announce at the eleventh hour, no kids under 12. What if you had booked the whole trip and then your kids couldn’t go. I’d be pissed.

    1. What Google underlines, may depend on your default English variant you have in your browser.
      Re kids – there is some solution. Never have kids under 12 😉

  4. So it looks like theres a big chance the big 3 wont play Aus Open 2022…Federer and Nadal due to injury, returns tbc…Djokovic due to Aus government…just wondering if anyone knows Stans current status and what his chances are to be fit in time to play Aus Open?

    1. Time of Big3 seems to be over. Federer has no real chance to regain his big title winning capacity. The same Nadal, younger but more injury plagued over career. Djoker seems to be mentally broken after defeats in Tokyo and New York and maybe scared, his time of winning everything is over too, so maybe welcoming Australian vaccine blockade as a pretext for not trying to win AO once more.
      Meanwhile next guard is maturing and getting ready for slams. If Thiem can recover well from wrist injury, maybe he will regain his leader role for this younger group. But there are also younger threats coming up in big numbers, able for surprising top guys in first or second rounds.
      Tennis is no more classic. Everyone can do power hitting, serving aces. Net game loses importance. So called aggressive baseline game is going to dominate. Older classic players will have less and less chances in this environment.
      For Fed to have still some big win chances, he would need to switch to doubles, where hard hitting is still a margin. Stan? No news are rather bad news, I guess 🙁

      1. @CG1
        I don’t know, what will happen. Potentially Djoker and Rafa are still slam contenders. But of course everyone in decline and growing chances of younger guys to win slams. Some have the game to do this since some years, but are missing experience.
        Yeah, I think 20-20-20 would be a very fair outcome and I don’t think either Rafa or Djoker are really excited to maybe come out of this equation. Winning another slam would actually not change anything in the dummy GOAT debate, but it would maybe make the 3 closer together and have a good feeling everyone. Of course, whoever from them continues to play, will try like anyone does. But not just to break the current record. This is of course my speculation. I don’t know, what are their feelings. But many former top players and tennis experts are telling a lot about that, all going for 20-20-20 to stay for ever as a fest possible finish of the Big3 era.

  5. And I think, they all get with the time “multi-injured”. While we think of knees for Fed and Stan, they may have another smaller problems, which nobody talks about, but it’s quite impossible, wear and tear of so long and intense careers could save everything in the body working “as usual”. So after the main injury is healed and rehabbed properly, those smaller problems add to the main one, making them no more 100% recoverable.

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