Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


in cricket and rugby, a game between two teams from different countries

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The sporting sense of test is short for ‘test match’, a term first used in the mid 19th century to refer generally to a match held to decide which of two teams or players is better.


A test match or test is a contest between two teams from different countries, generally in the sports of rugby and cricket; the term originates in the fact that this kind of match tests the abilities of the players. There is usually a series of such matches with the winning team being the one that wins more matches. The importance attached to these matches is indicated by the fact that the word is often written Test, while the involvement of national teams means that they are followed by many whose general interest in the sport is low. In the case of cricket, Test matches are spread over several days and consist of a number of contests played at different venues around the country of the home team. The visiting team are sometimes referred to as the ‘tourists‘. In the case of the current series against the West Indies, which started yesterday behind closed doors and was interrupted by rain, there will be three matches, each of which may last up to five days, although they often do not last that long. This Test series is being played inside what has been described as a ‘bio bubble’, with restricted access, strict hygiene including frequent testing of players and support staff, extensive social distancing, and even some changes to the rules on how the ball is handled. Several years ago our Editor in Chief wrote a series of posts about the often baffling terminology of cricket; you can read the first of them here.


The constant also remains that a five-Test series (six being a thing of the past) is the ultimate examination of the relative strength of two teams.
(Patrick Ferriday)

Cricket to us was more than play, It was a worship in the summer sun.
(Edmund Blunden)

Related words

Lords, the Oval, series, international

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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