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Racket vs. racquet

Racket is the usual spelling of the word for the paddle-like device used in net games such as tennis. Racquet is an alternative form—it was originally a misspelling of the French word, and has appeared to varying degrees since entering English in the 19th century—now mainly confined to certain contexts, appearing especially in names (e.g., West River Health & Racquet Club) and in reference to the sports of squash and racquetball. In tennis, racket is the preferred spelling. This is the case throughout the English-speaking world, but the preference for racket is strongest in North America.

Racket is also the correct spelling in reference to (1) a loud distressing noise, (2) commotion, and (3) a dishonest and profitable business practice. Racquet has no definitions outside sports.

Examples

Racket


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Roebker slammed his racket on the court three times after losing match point. [Ball State Daily News]

I once had a Saturday job selling tennis rackets in a sports shop. [Financial Times]

To its credit, the ministry under Jairam Ramesh is no longer the money-making racket it once was. [LiveMint.com]

Racquet

Martin was only three years old when she held a squash racquet for the first time. [Port Macquarie News (link now dead)]

To the uninitiated, squash is the most esoteric of all the racquet sports. [The Riverdale Press]

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Comments

  1. ‘Racket’ is not the correct spelling in reference to sports equipment anywhere outside of America. This American usage may be derived from frequent misspellings from years ago. The correct spelling is ‘Racquet’.

    May it be reminded that ‘O.K.’ came about when an American presidential candidate wrote ‘Orl Korrect’ (All Correct).

    • Grammarist says:

      We disagree on two points.  

      1. While some writers outside North America might prefer the French-influenced spelling for the sports equipment, “racket” prevails by a large margin. 

      Here’s a search of the phrase “tennis racquet” in various U.K. publications covering 2000 to the present: http://goo.gl/tCRp2 There are 49 results. 

      And here’s a similar search for “tennis racket”: http://goo.gl/7oTBO. It shows 134 results. So the margin of “racket” to “racquet” is almost 3 to 1. The ratio is even bigger in Canadian and Australian publications. 

      There’s also this Ngram, which charts the phrases’ use in British books published from 1800 to 2000: http://goo.gl/49Frq. It shows that “tennis racket” has prevailed since the early 20th century. 

      2. “Racket” is not an American misspelling. In fact, the spelling predates the United States. The OED has examples of “racket” used in sports-related contexts from as far back as the 15o0s, and the spelling was around for hundreds of years before anyone used “racquet” (itself a misspelling of the French word). “Racquet” did not come about until the 1800s, and even then it was just a variant of “racket.”

      • Alan Thomas says:

        Wow. I’m an American, a tennis fanatic, and very good at spelling; and I was stunned to read this. I only Googled the question to settle an argument, and was shocked to find that I was apparently wrong. I felt sure that “racquet” was the preferred spelling in tennis, with “racket” being reserved for the word meaning “scam” or “conspiracy”. Huh.

      • This is great, you should put this stuff up into the main article.

      • ITs funny definitions confirmed by just what google result shows. Google is just a system. It doesn’t matter even if it can’t find a single entry for some subjects. Still it mean those are exist for those who only depend on ggl.

      • Vila Restal says:

        I ran through the (leading) results for ‘British’ publications only to discover they were, in fact, overwhelmingly American in origin – merely later re-published in the UK.
        Only one of the first 10 appeared to even be British in origin.
        There were also
        Australian and German publications included as British.This pattern held for both
        spellings.
        Naturally the top results are in themselves subject to all sorts of unintended bias, but this suggests Google’s definition of a ‘British (etc) Book’ is fundamentally flawed.
        Also, the leading source of GB’s content, by far, is via digitized US library holdings – where the process of full digitization is much further ahead than elsewhere in the anglosphere. Therefore the sample set is inherently skewed anyway.

        (Yes I know it was 3 years back – but this page is one of the top results for people presently searching for the ‘correct’ version)

        • oknazevad says:

          Regardless, the etymological galaxy that “racket” is a an Americanism is false, period. The spelling predates the United States by centuries. It is not an Americanism at all, and only snobs falsely make that claim.

          • OK then, how do you explain the American butchering of a perfectly good word like ‘Anaesthetist’, by adding three more syllables and calling it ‘Anesthesiologist’?

          • oknazevad says:

            Different words for different roles. Anesthetists are nurses, anesthesiologists are physicians. Like the distinction between and optometrist and an ophthalmologist.

          • From the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ society:
            “The former term is used throughout the world, and particularly in
            Britain, to designate “one who administers an anaesthetic”, and includes
            both nurses and doctors. In Canada, only trained physicians provide
            anesthetic services, so the Canadian Anaesthetists’ Society adopted the
            designation “anesthesiologist” to separate physician providers from
            others.”

            Once again, you foist your cumbersome, unwieldy Americanisms on us, as if we should all follow your lead – No thanks Mate, I’ve already got a language – It’s called English.

          • Bongo Bongo Bongo says:

            I wonder what Bart Simpson would say?

          • I’m wondering when the Americans are going to rename surgeons ‘surgeoniologists’ to differentiate them from theatre (yes, “theatre”) nurses.

        • Bongo Bongo Bongo says:

          I have found that too Vila.
          Americans just love to hear the sound of their own voice
          (even in print).
          The confusion between the French spelling(racquet) and the slang racket is a simple reflection of the number of idiomatic French
          words in the English language.For example veal as opposed to steak.

          • oknazevad says:

            “Racket” is not slang. It’s the spelling with the older at gestation. Are you being willfully ignorant of the sources because they don’t fit your preconceived notions? Because that is how it reads. It remains the fact that the ITF, the UK’s Lawn Tennis Federation, and every other governing body of tennis use “racket” as the standard English spelling. The notion that “racquet” is the original, correct spelling and “racket” a corrupt Americanism is been disproven outright, and only dishonest people would keep pushing that falsehood.

          • Bongo Bongo Bongo says:

            Question;how many other meanings of racket are their?
            I can think of at least four.
            1)a noisy party 2)a corrupt business 3)a game similar to squash
            and 4) an oval strung implement used in tennis.
            Whereas raquet has but one meaning.
            Hint;American is a slang..invovling any number og languages(including even Native American languages-for example half the cities in the East have American Indian slang names).
            So I am waiting for some more proof(sic).

          • oknazevad says:

            Check a reputable dictionary, like the OED for your proof. And it’s not like there are not other homonyms in the English language.

            Frankly, dismissing American English as slang is pretty insulting and not borne out by history. You seem to believe the common error that modern British English is the original version and American English is a variant, not the truth that the two are both descended from the same earlier form. Neither is superior.

          • Bongo Bongo Bongo says:

            Funny that the language we are talking about is the English language…yes, the English language.
            As for the ‘repute’ or otherwise of American literary scholarship,
            the University I attended had almost universally American editions
            in it’s library.
            It was only when I’d left and started accumulating my own library of books did I realise how ‘short-changed’ I had been.

          • oknazevad says:

            So, you admit your anti-American bias. That’s all anyone needs to know that you lack objectivity.

          • Bongo Bongo Bongo says:

            American’s are famous for ‘letting the side down’.

          • Ren Anstice says:

            One: You’re not proving any point here with your bashing. Stop putting words in people’s mouths.

            Two: For someone trying to prove a form of “English” is superior, your grammar is horrendous. You use contractions instead of possessive pronouns, you randomly turn the plural form of words into possessive, you can’t tell the difference between homophones, and you don’t know the difference between a colon and a semicolon, much less know how to use quotes properly. I’d really recommend you take your English lessons more seriously before trying to prove a point on a page about grammar.

          • Bongo Bongo Bongo says:

            What’s a ‘ren’,Ren?

          • Ren Anstice says:

            Ren is a Confucian value about respecting fellow peers that you evidently lack. Also, can you please stop changing your message? You switch from one argument to the next almost like you are grasping at straws. I will not argue with someone that changes their own argument after every rebuttal.
            Proper grammar is not really a restriction; I don’t know why you think following a formal set of rules that can help set the difference between being perceived as professional and illiterate is comparable to being ignorant. By your logic, it should be okay for programmers to put in whatever they want for their program because THEY think it works, and it should work to their expectations; try telling that to the technology that guides our lives every day; EVERYBODY could be a programmer if it were that easy. Just because I understand what you say doesn’t mean that everyone will understand you. Imagine talking to someone just learning the English language. The way you type would confuse such people.
            Why don’t you realize that you’re the one that’s being ignorant with your close-minded attitude and inconsistent argumentation? As much as I hate to say it, you really are throwing strawmans at this point.

          • Bongo Bongo Bongo says:

            Thought you’d be back.
            Let’s hear for pedantry.
            Wriiten humour or ‘punning’ relies on homophones.
            Parentheses are not quotes.
            A colon is used (among other things) before you present a list of things;
            and a semi-colon is a (longer) pause than a comma.
            I forget your other grizzles.

            Part two; Programmers work with mathematical logic..we are talking
            about intellectual logic.
            Grammar of course is all about rules..not ideas.Ideas are the content
            of intellectual thought.
            Only a nimby like you would think otherwise.

            Your conclusions seem premature given I have read only two posts from you and I guess you have read not much more from me.
            As quick on the draw as you are,I’m thinking you are firing blanks.

    • oknazevad says:

      You couldn’t be any more incorrect if you tried.

  2. Just because the majority come up with the same spelling it doesn’t make it right.

  3. The upshot of this seems to be that “racket” is the more correct (and better historically-grounded) spelling. Whereas “racquet” is a comparatively new-fangled variant, used by pretentious people, that – to the uninformed – carries an unfounded air of antiquity and authenticity! ;-)

  4. Excellent discussion – I think I’m more impressed by the history of O.K though! Every day’s a school day…

    • oknazevad says:

      It’s an incorrect etymology.

      • really, do you know the correct one?

        • It arose out of the slang of the 1820s–1830s in The northeast, especially New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, where fanciful, intentionally incorrect spellings, and abbreviations evoking them, became trendy for a time. That itself was a humorous reaction to the spelling standardizations and reforms of Noah Webster, which had spread after he published his 1826 dictionary.

          For the most part, the trend died off as quickly as it started, and passed into forgotten history. Except that Martin Van Buren, whose nickname was “Old Kinderhook” after his hometown in New York, used “OK” in in his 1836 presidential campaign as a humorous nod to the trend (which being from New York he knew about), popularizing the saying elsewhere in the country, which led to its survival as an informal term. It began a resurgence after WWII, to the point where it is standard American English now, and also widely used in other dialects as well.

          So, to make a long story short (too late, I know): It wasn’t coined by a presidential candidate, but was, at least partly, popularized by one.

  5. Officer Weenie says:

    I am a cop for the Miami Police Dept. (MPD) and for my job you have to know how to spell raquet. The differences between these words are significant! Become cop and you will know what we really do all day.

  6. shuttlecocker says:

    Racket is the correct and therefore the most used spelling when referencing a paddle like device used in sports like Tennis, Badminton etc. The opening line in this article also states the fact.
    Racquet has a French slant to it and as has been clarified above that it comes from a misspelling of the French word.
    In any case I know that a vast majority of people do not have a clear idea of various racket sports.
    Among them one standout is Badminton. More people in the west tend to relate to it as a backyard, picnic or camping trip recreational sport. They play it more like a game rather than a sport. A bit of research into it on the web will unravel a stark realization and awakening.
    That’s just for those interested enough or mildly curious about the facts.

  7. Because ‘racquet’ has no definition outside sports, it is more correct in reference to tennis, squash, badminton etc because it removes any ambiguity.

    • oknazevad says:

      If you need to use a particular spelling to ensure no ambiguity, chances are you are a port writer or lack quality reading comprehension skills. “Racquet” is not more correct in any context ever. It’s use is a pretentious bore. The proper spelling (according to the International Tennis Federation to boot) is the more ancient, natively English “racket”, not the false pseudo-French “racquet”, adopted by only snobs.

      • The fact remains that one way of spelling the word allows ambiguity, while the other does not.

      • Bongo Bongo Bongo says:

        Yes and no.
        Yes Franco-english words have tremendous snobbery value;
        but they are also well-accepted usages.
        The English language as we know it only became widely used several centuries AFTER
        the French Norman Knights conquered England.

  8. Get on with Sports says:

    would we call Badminton racquet or Badminton racket

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