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Are names of games such as "cricket", "football" considered proper nouns? And should the first letter of these words be capitalized?

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closed as general reference by Jim, FumbleFingers, RegDwigнt May 30 '12 at 11:49

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

possible duplicate of Is the game, "go," a proper noun? What about "checkers" or "chess"? – Jim May 30 '12 at 2:47
up vote 7 down vote accepted

To some extent this may depend on whichever style guide you are following, as there are grey areas.

Broadly, manufactured games are named products and thus proper nouns. This encompasses virtually all modern board games, role-playing games, and machine and video games, and includes branded versions of traditional games, as in the case of Sorry! for pachisi. Games which take their name from the titles of songs, nursery rhymes, or other proper nouns are also treated as proper nouns, like Pease Porridge Hot.

On the flip side, the names of most other games and sports have evolved to mean the general concept of an activity, and are treated as common nouns. Even relatively modern games like baseball or croquet would no sooner be capitalized than "running" or "throwing." Proper nouns and their adjective forms remain so in names, but since the name of the game has evolved into a concept, the compound construction remains a common noun, as in Canadian football or Chinese checkers.

Not all games may be considered common activities everywhere and across all generations, however, so you may find differing capitalization in differing sources. For example, an author or editor might capitalize names of games which consist of common words, like Go or Quarters, to reduce ambiguity when there is little context.

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No, "cricket", "football" and other common sport names are not proper nouns and should not be capitalized.

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One way to check something like this is to simply look it up in a dictionary. As a general rule, dictionaries will capitalize proper nouns (like White House and World Cup but not chess). Even words that are capitalized only in certain contexts will be denoted that way (see entry below).

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Still, you will see these names of sports capatilized from time to time, when they are part of a proper noun, e.g. the Cricket World Cup or the World Chess Federation. So:

The 35th Ikaros International Chess Tournament 2012, Aegean Open Championship 2012, will take place on 7-15th July in Agios Kirykos, Ikaria island, Greece.


The Mediterranean Rapid Team Tournament is a rapid Swiss tournament for teams. Participation is open to teams coming from the chess federations of the countries of the Mediterranean Sea.

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