The set of numbers for a six-sided die are: ace, deuce, trey, cater, cinque, sice. They originate from Old French (cf. un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six in modern French). Ace comes from Latin as, assis (unity, copper coin, the unit of coinage). They can be mentioned in other situations (e.g. cards) or expressions ("to ace (something): to do exceptionally well"). There are connections with the history of science, since the zero arose quite late in Western countries.

Does a similar form for the zero exist?

Related questions:


1 Answer 1


The question might be paraphrased:

Complete the pattern with a word that played a parallel historical role:

  • count: three, two, one, zero
  • rank: third, second, first, zeroth
  • dice: trey, deuce, ace, ____

Briefly, there is no exact fit because historically, dice didn't have 0 until perhaps as late as the mid-20th century, ditto playing cards, etc. etc.

However, some candidates for near matches:

  1. "nought" / "naught" -- Old English word meaning "nothing" that came to mean "zero" sometime in the 15th century. Featured in games such as Noughts and Crosses, so nought / ace / deuce....
  2. "love" -- tennis word for zero, and tennis is a medieval French that emerged in the 15th century and uses the the words ace and deuce, so there you have it. Etymological theories are that the term "love" either means "no money" or that it is a corruption of the French word for egg (l'œuf), indicateing an egg-shaped zero (also termed a "goose-egg").
  3. "joker" -- a specially named card (like the "ace") with no numerical marking (so perhaps like zero). A counterargument is that the origin of the joker is relatively recent (19th century), even if it might be modeled on the Fool tarot, and furthermore that the joker's origin and gameplay use puts it closer to meaning "infinity" (an uber-trump) than to "zero".
  • 1
    To be more like zero there'd need to be four jokers; one for each suit. I tend to think of jokers as wild cards- being able to stand for any existing value rather than zero.
    – Jim
    Nov 29, 2016 at 6:37
  • 1
    One zero-card per suit would also be interesting, but it isn't required for the zero card concept, for the same reason that we don't need +0 and -0. So, if I have a box of 2 diamonds, and a box of 3 clubs, and a box of nothing, it isn't automatic to say "what kind of nothing? No diamonds, or no clubs?" It could just be: nothing. Nov 29, 2016 at 21:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.