Chess Pieces

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Josh_, May 26, 2006.

  1. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I did a search and could not find this topic.

    I love the game of chess. Before I knew a second language I just assumed that the pieces were called the same things in all languages, but now I know that is not so. I would like to know what the chess pieces are called in your language and the English translation of the word to see how much variety there is.

    1. King
    2. Queen
    3. Bishop
    4. Knight
    5. Castle/Rook
    6. Pawn

    Arabic (or at least Egyptian Arabic)
    1. malik (king)
    2. waziir ((government) minister)
    3. fiil (elephant)
    4. Husaan (horse)
    5. Tabya (fortress or tower)
    6. 'askari (soldier)
    ---also called beedaq (no English translation other than pawn to show that it is the chess piece)

    Also, what word do you say when you put your opponent in check?
    English: Check!
    Arabic: Kish!
  2. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Palestinian Arabic:

    1. malek (king)
    2. malike (queen)
    3. waziir (governmental minister)
    4. HSaan (horse)
    5. qal'a (castle)
    6. jundi (soldier)

    In Palestinian Arabic we say "malek" (king).
  3. Krümelmonster Senior Member

    Germany, german
    1. König (king)
    2. Dame (lady)
    3. Läufer (courser???)
    4. Pferd (horse)
    5. Turm (tower)
    6. Bauer (peasant)

    Oh, and we say "Schach" (the name of the game :))
  4. parakseno

    parakseno Senior Member

    Romanian, Romania
    1. King - rege
    2. Queen - regină
    3. Bishop - nebun (literally madman)
    4. Knight - cal (meaning horse)
    5. Castle/Rook - tură (tower)
    6. Pawn - pion

    Check - Şah (just as the name of the game)
    Checkmate - Şah mat
  5. diegodbs

    diegodbs Senior Member


    1. Rey
    2. Reina
    3. Alfil
    4. Caballo
    5. Torre
    6. Peón

    Jaque, Jaque mate.
  6. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Just a few additions:
    We could add "Checkmate!" in every language.

    German: Schach matt!
  7. jester.

    jester. Senior Member

    Aachen, Germany
    Germany -> German
    Spanish: ¡Jaque mate!
  8. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    What about these?

    draw - tablas
    stalemate - ahogado
    castle - enroque
    en passant - al paso
  9. anthodocheio

    anthodocheio Senior Member


    1. βασιλιάς (king)
    2. βασίλισσα (queen)
    3. αξιωματικός (officer)
    4. άλογο (horse)
    5. πύργος (tower)
    6. στρατιωτάκι (little soldier)

    The other terms are "mat" and "rua-mat" (well it's French and I don't remember how to spell it)

    And the game is "σκάκι" (skaki)= chess
  10. Tisia Senior Member

    Iran, Persian, Kurdish, English, Finnish
    1. Shah:King
    2. Vazir:Minister
    3. Rukh:Castle/Rook
    4. Peyadeh:pawn
    5. Pil OR Fiil: Elephant
    6. Sarbaz:Soldier

  11. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    1. Rei (king)
    2. Rainha (queen)
    3. Bispo (bishop)
    4. Cavalo (horse)
    5. Torre (tower)
    6. Peão (pawn)

    English: Check!
    Portuguese: Xeque! (from Persian shah, via French échec)
  12. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    A nice topic. :)

    1. Král - king
    2. Dáma - lady
    3. Střelec - gunman/shooter
    4. Jezdec - rider/cavalryman (sometimes kůň - horse)
    5. Věž - tower
    6. Pěšec - infantryman

    Check - šach
    Checkmate - šach mat (pretty much like the Persian "the king is dead").

    I have found what Josh was looking for, the comments are interesting. Click. :)

  13. Maja

    Maja Senior Member

    Binghamton, NY
    Serbian, Serbia
    In Serbian:

    Chess (the game) - šah (Cyrillic шах)
    Chess board - šahovska tabla (шаховска табла)
    Check - šah (шах)
    Checkmate - šah-mat; in short just "mat" (шах-мат)

    1. King - Kralj (краљ)
    2. Queen - Kraljica (краљица)
    3. Bishop - Lovac (ловац)
    4. Knight - Skakač/konj (скакач/коњ)
    5. Castle - Top (топ)
    6. Pawn - Pešak/pion (пешак/пион)

  14. Mutichou Senior Member

    France - French
    In French:
    1. King: roi (lit. king)
    2. Queen: reine (lit. queen)
    3. Bishop: fou (lit. madman / fool, jester)
    4. Knight: cavalier (lit. horseman)
    5. Castle/Rook: tour (lit. tower)
    6. Pawn: pion (lit. pawn)

    Checkmate : échec et mat
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2015
  15. Honour Senior Member

    Türkçe, Türkiye
    1. King (şah)
    2. Queen (vezir: minister in ottomans)
    3. Bishop (fil: elephant)
    4. Knight (at: horse)
    5. Castle/Rook (kale: castle)
    6. Pawn (piyon: i don't know its translation but it is a player w/o importance)
  16. Bienvenidos

    Bienvenidos Senior Member

    In Afghan Persian (Afghan Farsi):

    1. Shah:King
    2. Wazir:Minister
    3. Rukh:Castle/Rook
    4. Peyadeh:pawn
    5. Fil: Elephant (accent over I)
    6. Askar:Soldier

  17. Tatzingo

    Tatzingo Senior Member

    Where on Earth??
    English, UK

    That's very different from most languages. The Queen is usually the piece next to the King. So is the King married to the Minister? :D

  18. Bienvenidos

    Bienvenidos Senior Member

    ^Hey :) Sorry, I just used the examples given in the thread I quoted, which didn't include the queen. Queen is "malika" (the i pronounced as ee in meet)

  19. Qcumber Senior Member

    UK English
    Hello. An exciting thread.

    I looked for the chess terms used in Tagalog (Philippines), and saw that all of them are Spanish (pronounced the Filipino way), and are now frequently replaced by the English ones (ditto).
    chess = ajedrez > ahedres
    king = rey > rey sometimes replaced by Tag. hari
    queen = reina > reyna
    bishop = alfil > arpil
    knight = caballo > kabayo
    rook = torre > tore
    pawn = peon > piyon
  20. Samaruc Senior Member

    València (País Valencià)
    Valencià/Català, Castellano

    1. King: Rei
    2. Queen: Reina
    3. Bishop: Alfil
    4. Knight: Cavall (Horse)
    5. Castle: Torre (Tower)
    6. Pawn: Peó

    Chess: Escacs
    Check: Escac
    Checkmate: Escac i mat
  21. Qcumber Senior Member

    UK English
    Yes, Jana. This article has almost everything.
  22. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    The table in that website has "dama" for "queen" in Portuguese, but I've never heard that term applied in the game of chess (we do use it in checkers). I wonder if it's Brazilian.
  23. berty bee Member

    In hungarian:

    1. King = király
    2. Queen = királynő or alternatively chief = vezér
    3. Bishop <- futó ( if I translate it: = runner)
    4. Knight = ló ( =horse) ( or alternatively: cavalryman = huszár)
    5. Castle/Rook = bástya (other meaning: tower)
    6. Pawn = gyalog ( or alternatively: paraszt <- if I translate it: peasant)

    It seems me that our word for chief -> vezér originates from persian or arab
  24. Tisia Senior Member

    Iran, Persian, Kurdish, English, Finnish
    Fortunately and unfortunately we don't send QUEENS to war, that's why there is no queen beside the king:D. Maybe becuase Chess is an old game and Iranians have kept its old piece names, or maybe it is a cultural thing:(

  25. Tatzingo

    Tatzingo Senior Member

    Where on Earth??
    English, UK

    Interesting idea. If there is no queen because queens don't go to war (they just declare it!), then what's a bishop doing there? They don't generally go to war either! :D

    Old game? I was just wondering how old chess might actually be as a game? 400 hundred years?

  26. Honour Senior Member

    Türkçe, Türkiye
    ^That is why we name them as vezir(chief), at (horse), fil(elephant), kale (castle), piyon (regular soldier):D . They could all been seen in a historic war. Btw, chess is nearly two thousand years old.
  27. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Please let's not spend more time on history than is needed for language question. ;)

  28. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Yes, I felt that way at first, but thinking outside of the box, I asked myself why does the piece that we traditionally know as the queen have to be a queen, or female for that matter?
  29. Jhorer Brishti Senior Member

    United States/Bangladesh English/Bengali
    For those who are uninterested in viewing Whodunit's link, the ancient version of Chess played in India did had a Minister/Counselor as the piece endowed with the most power and this was later changed to a Queen in modern European Chess.

    Heeding Jana's plea, I'll refrain from delving even further into historical ramblings and post the names of the Chess pieces in Bengali:

    King- Raja(self-explanatory)
    Queen-Mantri(Montri, Minister/King's advisor. Just for comparison, the Bengali word for Prime Minister is Pradhan(Prodhan) Mantri.
    Rook/Castle-Naukaa(Noukaa, Boat or Vessel)
    Pawn-Sanya(Shonno, Army)
  30. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Yes, that is a very interesting site. Thanks for bringing it to us, Jana.:)

    Thanks to everyone else also, for your contributions.:)
  31. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Whodunit's post is now in Culture, please feel free to ramble there. :)
  32. optimistique Senior Member

    The website Jana gave has all the Dutch names.

    It gives "Dame" for Queen, which is correct, but personally I always say "Koningin" which means 'Queen'. My Grandmother on the other hand always says "Dam", probably after the original French pronunciation of "Dame".
  33. Honour Senior Member

    Türkçe, Türkiye
    If i am not mistaken, alfil is al fil in Arabic which means the elephant.
  34. Tisia Senior Member

    Iran, Persian, Kurdish, English, Finnish
    I exactly don't know how old chess it is, but many say it dates back to around 6th century. The queen also hasn't been a part of the original chess pieces but came in after chess was transferred to Europe. The bishop idea also maybe comes during this time since bishops were also taking part in making decisions on wars.

  35. annah New Member


    King -- gúo wáng 國王
    Queen -- húang hòu 皇后
    Knight -- qí shì 騎士
    Bishop -- zhŭ jiào 主教
    Pawn -- shì bīng 士兵
    Castle -- chéng băo 城堡
  36. übermönch

    übermönch Senior Member

    Warum wohne ich bloß in so einem KAFF?
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    in russian the names have almost the same meaning as in persian or arabic. The bishop is an elephant, "slon", and the queen is either a queen, "koroleva", or a "ferz", don't know what it means, but it isn't female. Probably an equivalent of a vezir. The rook's a "ladya", a boat.
  37. Qcumber Senior Member

    UK English
    I have the impression these terms were coined not that long ago (19th or 20th centuries). The Chinese didn't play chess, but another game that looks like it with more pieces and different rules. The pieces are flat and bear their names in Chinese characters.
  38. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Yes, I agree with Tisia,
    This queen and bishop "titles" can be influences of the Crusades (just a very wilde guess).
    If we all give a closer look to all the translations, we'll find that the Indian, Persian and Arabic names have nothing to do with queens nor bishops (nor their equivalents in their respective cultures), rather a minister (i.e. counselor) and an elephant (mighty animal used in wars in old times).

    Maybe this is more worth of the Cultural forum ? I'm not sure, but I was just struck by the resemblences.
  39. Ilmo

    Ilmo Member Emeritus


    1. King = kuningas
    2. Queen = kuningatar
    3. Bishop = lähetti (=messenger), earlier also: juoksija (=runner)
    4. Knight = ratsu (=mount), earlier also: hevonen (=horse)
    5. Castle/Rook = torni (=tower)
    6. Pawn = sotilas (=soldier), earlier also: talonpoika (=peasant) or moukka (=boor)
    The game's name is shakki, which is also written šakki. When you want to say check, you must say "shakki" in Finnish. Checkmate is in Finnish "shakki ja matti", that is, "check and mate".
  40. Kraus Senior Member

    Italian, Italy
    In Italian:

    King - Re
    Queen - Donna, Regina
    Bishop - Alfiere
    Knight - Cavallo
    Rook - Torre
    Pawn - pedone

    Castle - arrocco
    Check - scacco
    Checkmate - scacco matto
    Draw - patta
    Stalemate - stallo
  41. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    CHess pieces are /shatranj ke khiladi/
  42. pickypuck Senior Member

    Badajoz, Spanish Extremadura
    Extremaduran Spanish
    Exactly. According to the dictionary it comes from Hispanic Arabic alfíl, from Classical Arabic fīl, from Pahlavi pīl, elephant.

    Castling = enroque.
    Check = jaque.
    Checkmate = jaque mate.
    Draw = tablas.
    Stalemate = ahogado.

    ¡Olé! :cool:
  43. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Just wanted to add that the Bishop is also called 'ο τρελλός' m (o trellos, the crazy one)
  44. Perkele Member

    Finland, Finnish
    1. King: kuningas
    2. Queen: kuningatar, daami (dame)
    3. Bishop: lähetti (messenger)
    4. Knight: ratsu, hevonen (horse)
    5. Rook: torni (tower)
    6. Pawn: sotilas (soldier)

    E: Ilmo had already posted (more inclusive) Finnish names.
  45. dinji Senior Member

    Borgå, Finland
    Swedish - Finland
    Swedish is similar to German:
    1. K(on)ung (king)
    2. Dam (lady)
    3. Löpare (runner)
    4. Springare/Häst (runner/horse)
    5. Torn (tower)
    6. Bonde (peasant)
    ...and I say "schack!" and "shack matt" (according to my dictonary one could also say "schack och matt".

    Interestingly we also have idioms with this word: "Hålla någon/sig i schack" = 'restrain'
  46. federicoft Senior Member

  47. Saluton Banned

    Moscow, Russia

    King - король (= king)
    Queen - ферзь (stand-alone word for the chess piece, saying королева (= queen) is considered incorrect)
    Bishop - слон (= elephant); colloq. офицер (= officer)
    Knight - конь (= (male adult) horse)
    Rook - ладья (= Russian medieval boat moved by means of oars and sails; also, a poetic word for any kind of boat. Don't know how it came to mean the chess piece)
    Pawn - пешка (stand-alone word)

    check! - шах!
    Last edited: May 25, 2009
  48. phosphore Senior Member

  49. RaLo18 Senior Member


    Chess- שחמט shakhmat
    King - מלך melekh (=king)
    Queen - מלכה malka (=queen)
    Bishop - רץ rats (=runner)
    Knight -פרש parash (=horseman)
    Rook - צריח tsariakh (=spire, tower) טורה tura (=spire, tower. From the Spanish torre.)
    Pawn - רגלי ragli (=infantryman) חייל khayal (=soldier)
  50. Artidee New Member

    1. King = Konge (king)
    2. Queen = Dronning (queen)
    3. Bishop = Løber (runner)
    4. Knight = Springer (jumper)
    5. Castle/Rook = Tårn (tower)
    6. Pawn = Bonde (peasant)

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