Definition of tennis in US English:



  • A game in which two or four players strike a ball with rackets over a net stretched across a court. The usual form (originally called lawn tennis) is played with a felt-covered hollow rubber ball on a grass, clay, or artificial surface.

    See also court tennis
    • ‘Once upon a time, any old canvas plimsoll would do for a spot of tennis or a jog around the park.’
    • ‘For so long tennis was a sport that only mattered for a couple of weeks every year.’
    • ‘After a short break, I was playing tennis again.’
    • ‘It was not creative tennis but it was enthralling nonetheless.’
    • ‘Getting the ball over the net is important in tennis.’
    • ‘Fishing and tennis are available nearby.’
    • ‘It's a wonder he managed to concentrate on any tennis with so many other things on his mind.’
    • ‘He was a great lover of country life and enjoyed tennis and golf.’
    • ‘Her father had never played tennis but had been impressed by Boris Becker on television.’
    • ‘His tennis is so good that no-one can touch him.’
    • ‘She does sports twice a week, such as tennis or swimming.’
    • ‘He prides himself on being in shape, playing tennis and running on the treadmill to keep fit.’
    • ‘She fits in a gentle game of tennis every week.’
    • ‘She has the best backhand in tennis, of both men or women.’
    • ‘At one stage he thought he might give up tennis and take up football instead.’
    • ‘We don't play tennis at school much these days.’
    • ‘He is playing grass-court tennis of such perfection that it is hard to believe it will last.’
    • ‘He has some unexpected spare time and challenges me to a game of tennis.’
    • ‘The club is hoping that this year will see more people than ever taking up tennis and joining the club.’
    • ‘People no longer had time to spare to play tennis all day.’


Late Middle English tenetz, tenes ‘real tennis’, apparently from Old French tenez ‘take, receive’ (called by the server to an opponent), imperative of tenir.