New Word: Games

Image by Rick Brown from Pixabay

New Word #111

I haven’t watched the South Korean TV show “Squid Game” on Netflix–maybe I will do so during the holiday season. According to google, “Squid Game” depicts people in dire financial straits who sign up to play children’s games in the hopes of winning an enormous cash prize. The problem is when a player is eliminated, he or she gets shot to death.

Some say that the show reflects the phenomenon of poor people’s desperate attempt to have a better life, often with an illusion of a windfall, and often falling into a more desperate situation during the competition. Its significance is up for debate. Some try to interpret and many probably misinterpret.

There are many “game” words in English, which are used pretty often. There are quite a lot of them and here I only compiled a few.

game of chicken: This means to engage in a test of courage in which, typically, two vehicles are driven directly toward one another in order to see which driver will swerve away first. It is to engage in mutual challenges or threats, hoping the opponent will withdraw before actual conflict or collision.

double cross: deceive or betray (a person with whom one is supposedly cooperating).

zero-sum game: a situation in which one person or group can win something only by causing another person or group to lose it For example, dividing up the budget is a zero-sum game.

winner takes all: It means the whole prize will go to the person who wins while the rest gets nothing.

a whole new ball game: It means a completely different situation.

the prisoner’s dilemma: This phrase explains why two completely rational individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. It is originally published in a 1993 book: two prisoners will get better result if they are loyal to each other and don’t betray each other. However they are shut in different cells with no chance of communication. Each will be worse off if the other would confess. Each is wondering if he should confess first to get the better sentencing result.

game of chance: It means chance rather than skills determines the result.

Russian roulette: It means to gamble foolishly on a risky or potentially ruinous business, since Russian roulette has the worst pay off among all the casino games.

double jeopardy: The Double Jeopardy Clause in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits anyone from being prosecuted twice for substantially the same crime. I heard it on TV and movies not so infrequently, but still I am not clear why a person should be on trial twice and when this amendment is invoked.

round robin: a tournament in which each competitor plays in turn against every other.

Big Ten, Big Five, March Madness: I think these phrases refer to the American college sports, which is a very big thing for colleges here. Our local Rutgers University has been trying for years to get into Big Ten, or Big Five or some other more advanced positions in the college sports scenery, spending millions and millions each year. Since I don’t watch sports, I don’t really understand the meaning of these words even though I heard of them often in news.

the whole nine yard: It means to do everything one can to achieve certain outcome.

numbers game: the use or manipulation of statistics or figures, especially in support of an argument.

waiting game: a tactic in which one refrains from action for a time in order to act more effectively at a later date or stage.

cat’s paw: a person who is used by another to carry out an unpleasant or dangerous task.

blindsided: When we say somebody is blindsided, we mean that somebody is unprepared for an attack.

The Great Game: This term is used on the conflicts in Central Asia between the British Empire and the Russian Empire during 19th century, ending in the First World War. There is a book that is very interesting “The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia” by Peter Hopkirk.

The Immortal Game: The Immortal Game was a chess game played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky on 21 June 1851 in London.

25 thoughts on “New Word: Games

  1. Oh, WOW! Being shot to death? All the other games you included in this interesting post are equally scary and intense. However, because I have children, I understand the desperation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting list – as always.

    In the UK, football (soccer) is often called the “beautiful game”. This mystifies me since I’m not remotely interested in it.

    “Round robin” has another meaning too in the UK. We use it (disparagingly) to refer to those letters that some people enclose with their cards at Christmas. The ones in which they detail their fabulous holidays and the fact that one of their children has become a brain surgeon and the other a concert pianist during the year since they last wrote. Oh and there’s usually a token bit of self-deprecation thrown in as well. Is this a thing in the US?

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    1. Haha, that’s so funny. Actually I did observe one of my friends receiving a letter like that from somebody he knew long ago back in college. I just didn’t know there’s a phrase for this kind of thing. LOL. English has an expression for minute things like that. I have no such relatives to boast about. I will be happy and content if they are not mad. I don’t know about the mainstream people in the U.S. since I am living in an immigrant community. I have to say people say and do things to “keep up the appearance” all the time, although not in a cute letter form. Are those letters supposed to be hand written and on a fragrant piece of paper? I read it somewhere, probably in Saki’s short stories. LOL. That’s very exotic.

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      1. They are usually very carefully typed – sometimes with photos embedded in text. The key thing is that they are duplicated so that all their friends and relatives get exactly the same sheet of paper. This is why they are looked down on and made fun of – because they are so impersonal – and boastful as well off course! Their style is typically quite jokey but nobody is fooled. They are humble-bragging.

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        1. I guess it’s a generational thing though. I don’t suppose young people are doing it. Most of the people who send them are old enough to be grandparents – or at least parents.

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        2. So true. The one I witnessed is from a couple who’s about 80 years old. Now I see why the name is “round robin”. LOL. Robin is a beautiful bird and it doesn’t know that its name is being used in this way.

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        3. I think there’s a Seinfeld episode in which Elaine sent out a Christmas thing like that. Or in Two and Half Men, Allen sent out a Christmas family photo with a limerick attached to it. You are right. It is a little …

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        4. Yes – I guess a milder version is the personalised Christmas card with a photo of you and your family rather than a nativity scene or a reindeer or some such. Politicians do that sort of thing I think.

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    1. Growing up in a family of bitter battles and narcissistic manipulations, I have done my best not to play any games unless it is absolutely impossible to avoid. I would try my best not to get involved with anybody who has manipulation tendencies, but as you know, sometimes it is unavoidable. Still, good behavior and reasonable expectation should prevail and I believe that.

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