Dictionary Corner: what’s the origin of these classic gaming terms?

As a newcomer in the world of casino gaming, it can be hard to keep up with all of the terms and lingo used. A lot of online casino sites will offer out free spins on registration no deposit – but can you really make the most of these offers without knowing exactly what you’re getting yourself in for?

Join us as we take you through some of the basic terms, what they mean and the origin of these definitions. Read on to find out more.


Whilst the first official casino opened its doors in 1638, the term wasn’t actually coined until 1744, starting off  with a slightly different meaning. Originally taken from the Italian word casino, the Online Etymology Dictionary dictates that the term first referred to a “public room for music or dancing”, which isn’t a far cry from the definition we recognise today. By 1820, the context of the Italian word evolved and could be used to describe a “building for aristocratic gambling”. And, as we know, the word casino has retained that meaning up until today, although it has certainly become a more inclusive gaming location.


The word dealer is derived from the Old English noun ‘deal’ which means “divider, distributor; agent, negotiator”. As the 1600s began, the word was expanded to also cover a “player who passes out the cards in a game”.

Dealer also has a counterpart word – croupier. Croupier originally comes from the German word croup which means to “ride behind another”. By 1731 it had been adapted to refer to the person “behind” the gaming table, defined as the “one who clears the winnings from the table in gambling”.


The origin of this word can be traced back to 1726, meaning to “risk something of value on a game of chance”, simply implying the act of gambling. There are various other traces of word throughout history, but this is most likely where our version of the term begins.


The concept of luck is something that appears frequently throughout the world of casino gaming. With the likelihood of bagging a win falling down to chance – or luck – it features heavily throughout. The first trace of this term comes from the 1500s, meaning “fortune good or bad, what happens to one by chance”.

It wasn’t until 1832 that the word was associated with gambling, being used to refer to being “down on (One’s) luck”.


The origin of players goes back to England in the Middle Ages, being used in the context of performance plays – “one who takes part in pastimes or amusements”. In the late 14th century, the word was finally connected with table games, and later “contestants”.


Perhaps the most important part of any card-based game, the act of shuffling is essential in ensuring that all outcomes are fair. The word first appeared in 1620, being defined as “a trick”, before evolving into “a wavering or undecided course of behaviour” in 1640, taken from the verb. Fast forward to 1650, and the final connection had been made, with shuffle being used to refer to “a change in the order of playing cards” which is exactly how we use it in the casino setting now