The game of Go is...


The game of go is...

Apparently the International Go Federation capitalizes it. Its dictionary entry doesn't appear to be (from what I have seen). It seems to fit the definition of a proper noun as it isn't preceded by an article (such as "the" or "an").

So which is it?

Also, where does that put checkers, chess, basketball, football, etc. They are never (or at least not regularly) capitalized, yet they seem to have the same characteristics.

I predict the argument is going to be that Monopoly is capitalized because it is a brand and go should not be capitalized since it is not a brand and it is not referring to a specific instance of anything. Is that correct?

  • 1
    You could always use wei-chi (or weiqi) and side-step it altogether
    – Nick T
    Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 20:27
  • 2
    "Go" is also mentioned in english.stackexchange.com/a/113499/1420
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 7:23
  • This question is older, though.
    – Adam
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 3:17
  • 1
    @NickT, That's called avoiding the question.....
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 8:04

3 Answers 3


I'd say that Go is often capitalised simply because go is already a very common English word, so most sentences about the game would become significantly harder to parse if it weren't somehow differentiated typographically. Personally, I prefer italics to capitalisation, where possible. The names of games are often capitalised regardless of whether they're trademarks, seemingly in arbitrary fashion based on what looks good or feels right.

  • @Advs89: In the OED, only one quote from 1712 has Checkers; later quotes have checkers. @Jon: Good point, +1. Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 1:49
  • for anyone wondering, I did have a comment above that asked about checkers (which is what Cerberus was referencing)
    – Adam
    Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 2:05
  • Sounds good to go. +1
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 2:41
  • I would prefer capitalization to italics because italics can be too subtle depending on the font family and type size, at least to my tired eyes.
    – John Satta
    Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 12:27
  • @JonPurdy, Well, italics doesn't exist only until relatively recently... so capitalization is the only way.
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 8:06

The OED does not capitalize the name of the game, but its quotes do all have capitals. A third option would be not capitalized but italicised, because it is a foreign word.

I suspect that the argument goes that names may lose their capital once they are "felt" to have turned into regular words - a very vague criterion, of course; but compare how compound nouns lose their spaces and then their hyphens, which is equally difficult to define.


Jon Purdy says in his answer that it is to differentiate it from an existing word in the English language that has a specific meaning, which is a very good point. (I gave him +1 for that)

I would say that this is also the case for "Monopoly" as monopoly is also a regular word, where the game has taken an existing word as its name. Consider this sentence:

I have monopoly on the table

Without consider capital M or not, this could mean

I have a game of Monopoly lying on the table

or it could mean

I have monopoly on selling this type of tables.

The other examples (checkers, chess, basketball, football) do not have other meaning - they are uniquely identifying the games (basketball and football are made up of several other words, but the combined terms are uniquely describing the games).

  • 9
    I don't think Monopoly is comparable to Go. Monopoly is a trademarked instance of a game. You could make (and people do) games that play exactly like Monopoly, but are called something else. Eventually this may happen and "Monopoly" will just be one branded version of the game "Real Estate". Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 14:35
  • 1
    I'm trying to imagine anyone actually being confused by that sentence about the table. It seems much more likely, actually, for chess and checkers to cause confusion: I asked the checkers which pie they wanted, and they all said chess. Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 13:02

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