1 of 2

noun (1)

: a game for 2 players each of whom moves 16 pieces according to fixed rules across a checkerboard and tries to checkmate the opponent's king

Illustration of chess

Illustration of chess
  • chessboard with chess pieces arranged as at the beginning of a game


2 of 2

noun (2)

: a weedy annual European bromegrass (Bromus secalinus) widely naturalized in North America as a weed especially in grain
: any of several weedy bromegrasses related to chess

Examples of chess in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Oscar nominee Yan England – who also directs – co-creates the show alongside Bruno Nahon, delivering a psychological thriller set during the six-game chess matches between champion Garry Kasparov and IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue in 1997. Marta Balaga, Variety, 7 Feb. 2024 After this, a regular human intelligence in this game would become as anachronistic as the skills possessed by the chess and Go grandmasters that AI had surpassed decades ago. Elliot Ackerman, WIRED, 6 Feb. 2024 Generational talents Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson at quarterback; the coaching chess match between coaches Andy Reid and John Harbaugh. Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star, 25 Jan. 2024 The Sniper’s chess set, or the Machine Gunner’s oatmeal-sugar masks. Hazlitt, 24 Jan. 2024 At that time, the tenants included Marcel Duchamp, who as the story goes had moved in to be closer to the chess club across the street. Curbed, 26 Jan. 2024 As the first global sport to be certified with a net-zero carbon footprint, Formula E is the pinnacle of electric street racing, with drivers locked in a high-speed battle as masterful as a chess tournament. Robb Report Studio, Robb Report, 12 Jan. 2024 Having set its chess pieces on their proper squares, Ballad tucks into the usual business of moving them about, colliding them into each other, and systematically knocking them off the board. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 16 Nov. 2023 Patterson Mill extended its win streak to seven (dating back to Dec. 19) not solely behind its leading scorer Kiley Wilhelm, but on the shoulders of a collective offensive effort and a game of chess at the other end. Sam Cohn, Baltimore Sun, 9 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chess.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English ches, from Anglo-French escheks, eschés, plural of eschec check at chess — more at check

Noun (2)

origin unknown

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1736, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of chess was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near chess

Cite this Entry

“Chess.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a game for two players each of whom plays with 16 pieces on a checkerboard


Middle English ches "game of chess," from early French eschés (same meaning), literally, "checks," from eschec "check" — related to check, checker

More from Merriam-Webster on chess

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