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Why is a rook called a rook?


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July 05, 2009 1:51PM

There will probably other theories about the origin of the name "rook" for this chess piece; however her is the one I believe is best. IN the origins of the game itself, the game was called Chaturanga and it was not exactly the same as modern chess. The piece we call a rook was considered to be a chariot rather than a castle, probably because of the speed with which it moves. The Sanskrit word for chariot was "ratha". In Arabic it is still referred to as a chariot with the name "rukhkh." When the game spread to Europe, the word "rukhkh" sounded like the Italian word "rocco", which meant "tower." Since the two words sounded alike, the Italian word was used but the meaning changed from chariot to tower. The piece is still thought of as a tower in European translations. Various European countries use their language's word for "tower" rather than their words for "chariot". In Middle English the concept of tower eventually turned into castle since most castles had towers.

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