Pongiste Whiff-Whaff

Yesterday I came across a wonderful word – pongiste – which is apparently what a table tennis player is called in French.

There is a simliar word in English – ping-pongist – which refers to “one who plays or is enthusiastic about ping pong”. It’s marked as dated and rare, and I’ve never come across it before. Have you?

Table tennis was originally played as an after-dinner game by the upper classes in the 19th century Victorian England. Versions of the game were also played by British military officers in India in the 1860s and 1870s.

The name ping-pong, which is of omomatopoeic origin, was trademarked in 1901 by J. Jaques & Son Ltd, a British manufacturer of table tennis equipment, and came to be used to refer to the game. They sold the rights to the name to Parker Brothers in the 1920s, and it was trademarked in the USA in 1930. Parker Brothers still own the trademark.

Another name for the game, whiff-whaff, was coined by Slazenger & Sons in 1900. Apparently whiff-whaff also means “the breathy sound of something rushing quickly; whoosh”.

In South Lancashire dialect, whiff-whaff can mean “nonsense, words or deeds of little import” or “unnecessary items or additions” [source].

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Sources: Wiktionary, Wikipedia

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