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How Tetris Got Its Name

For over two decades, the puzzle video game Tetris has provided countless hours of procrastination and enjoyment for players all over the globe.

But now, researchers believe that Tetris might have a new purpose. They think that the game may help to prevent the flashbacks that occur in the early stages of post-traumatic stress disorder.

While the research is fascinating, let’s turn our attention to the word. What does Tetris mean?

While working at the Academy of Science of the USSR in Moscow, Alexey Pajitnov designed and programmed Tetris, which was released in 1984. Many consider it to be the greatest game of all time. Over a hundred million copies of the game have been sold for cell phones alone.

Pajitnov derived the name Tetris by combining Greek with the name of his favorite sport. Tetra is a Greek numerical prefix meaning “four,” and tennis was the game designer’s sport of choice.

(Tetra is also any of the tropical freshwater fishes of the genus Hemigrammus.)

The premise of the game is fairly simple. Random sequences of tetrominoes, or tetrads, fall onto a playing field. (A geometric shape made up of four squares that are connected orthogonally is called a tetromino, which is also called a tetramino or tetrimino.) The player then manipulates these tetrominoes, aiming to create a horizontal line of blocks without gaps. The player continues to create these lines, and with every ten that are created, the game enters a new level and becomes more challenging.

Since we mentioned tennis, do you know “why love” is used as a term for the score?

44 Comments

  1. Alex Bartha -  February 11, 2016 - 11:34 am

    I an enthusiastic TETRIS player for a long time.
    I am having a tough time finding TETRIS game
    I can use on my Win10 system.
    Is the game of TETRIS dead? Would like puchase
    CD or download version,
    Any help would much appreciated Alex

    Reply
  2. facebook fans -  February 21, 2012 - 8:51 pm

    I think this post is 100% true. Can i put this data within my blog?

    Reply
  3. N7xMartinx666 -  October 26, 2011 - 2:49 pm

    video games are aweosme!!!
    tetris rules!!

    Reply
  4. pooop -  January 28, 2011 - 10:31 am

    i love this game(:

    Reply
  5. emily -  January 27, 2011 - 4:41 pm

    wow.I wonder if they play Tetris in russa. Oh, by the way, if my name is blue and you click on it, you can see my relative’s website. You can buy sweets!!!! (yum yum they are good)

    Reply
  6. holycow -  January 22, 2011 - 4:09 pm

    GO VIDEOGAMES

    Reply
  7. wordjunkie -  January 22, 2011 - 8:13 am

    My brother-in-law just underwent a very traumatic experience. I may have to go out and get him a Tetris game now. Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Aporia -  January 21, 2011 - 6:02 am

    @Curly: I don’t know about sugar (though it’s likely that there ARE benefits), but I know that treating your children with gifts can be good for their self-esteem. But her’s the thing: With video games, sugar, indulgence, or what-have-you, it’s only beneficial if executed in moderation. There is such a thing as excess.

    Reply
  9. dang -  January 20, 2011 - 9:08 pm

    very substantial.. :)

    Reply
  10. Mark V -  January 20, 2011 - 3:59 pm

    Videogames provide Math, decision making, reflexes, reading, map-skills, vocabulary, teamwork, awareness, problemsolving, leadership, self-awareness enough to realize maybe you should be a leader, all the colorful swears, how do DEAL with people who do nothing but swear, and just general technological proficiencies, and a million other skills that are incredibly useful.

    Everytime you forget how to open your emails and ask your kids where to find that Wiki Encyclopedia to fix your Ipods Phone, odds are they know a fraction of what they do soley because of videogames.

    Reply
  11. Waldo Pepper -  January 20, 2011 - 12:00 pm

    FIRST!!

    Reply
  12. Mr. D [A.K.A] Elysian -  January 20, 2011 - 11:50 am

    Amazing health benefits of sugar eh? Can’t wait to hear that 1 lol.

    Reply
  13. Curly -  January 20, 2011 - 8:38 am

    So now video games are good for you? I do wonder what they’ll come up with next. Soon we shall hear of the amazing health benefits of sugar, or that giving your children whatever they want is important for their self-esteem.

    Reply
  14. alexis -  January 20, 2011 - 8:04 am

    YO GUY WIFF DA LONG COMMENT SHUSH IT WAS JUST AN INTERESTING STORY NOT A TRADEMARK BATTLE BUT DA PERSUN AFTA YHU WAS RIGHT GOOD RESEARCH THO…

    Reply
  15. Kitti -  January 20, 2011 - 6:28 am

    The thing about Tetris helping/preventing PTSD is quite true. IIRC, the reason has to do with the part of the brain that’s used for Tetris (visual/spatial reasoning) and it not being possible to use it at the same time as the part of the brain that’s used in flashbacks (memory).

    Reply
  16. Rich Durst -  January 20, 2011 - 5:45 am

    Joe: what about those companies that choose a trade mark specifically for the etymological meaning? Such as “Best Buy”? I’m pretty sure they want people to be conscious of what the words mean.

    Reply
  17. rebecca -  January 20, 2011 - 3:46 am

    Hello, I am from China shenyang music college freshman, I don’t understand English einhorn, embarrassed!

    However, I think your website is very good!

    Reply
  18. sumone -  January 19, 2011 - 3:48 pm

    i really thought the only reason it was called “love” was considering the other team was losing because they wel liked the other team but didnt want to give up thier fans by forfeiting

    Reply
  19. um thats ok -  January 19, 2011 - 3:01 pm

    tetris is ok and the research was interesting

    Reply
  20. Moto -  January 19, 2011 - 2:00 pm

    screw call of duty, screw world of warcraft. its 2011 get off da couch and live a real life

    Reply
  21. imjustsaying -  January 19, 2011 - 2:00 pm

    OOOOPPPPS! Adeel mentioned Tetris Effect, Zach testified to it. Nevertheless… Thanks again Zach :)

    Reply
  22. me -  January 19, 2011 - 1:59 pm

    my mom loves to play tetris and so does my brother. its the only video game my mom will play.

    Reply
  23. imjustsaying -  January 19, 2011 - 1:57 pm

    Yeah Zach… How you gonna give us a nibble then make us starve? Is this a real thing we can research?… Apparently it is. I am limited to Wikipedia at work, but it’s on there. Thanks Zach.

    Reply
  24. Pelly Kay -  January 19, 2011 - 1:26 pm

    Sean-
    There has been some research in the last year that playing Tetris after a traumatic event can lessen the effects or avoid the onset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

    That would also be consistent with Zach’s observation.

    I am not sure the psychologist know why this works, just that it seems specific to Tetris and that it should be started soon but not immediately after the traumatic event

    Reply
  25. poop -  January 19, 2011 - 1:25 pm

    tetris is poop i hate it but i liked the research, i never knew that and whats the tetris effect exactly

    Reply
  26. Mrs. Smelly Socks -  January 19, 2011 - 1:02 pm

    In this context at least, they are saying Tetris is a trademark. Trademarks do not necessarily mean anything, and to be eligible for exclusive right a trademark may only be suggestive at the most, i.e. never directly descriptive of the corresponding goods or services. Trademarks may be coined words (Kodak), words taken out of their “normal” usage (Apple for computers), and of course, trademarks can be something else entirely than words – logos, images and other graphic elements, even colours, sounds or even smells sometimes! Yes, sometimes there is a story behind a trademark, but as a rule, trademarks that are wordmarks are no ordinary words and, as already said, do not necessarily have a meaning, and it may actually do them more harm than justice to force a meaning upon them. The worst case scenario for a trademark would be to become diluted, which means becoming a generic term. This has happened to Nylon, Styrofoam, Escalator and many others.

    However, the name tetris is greek,no?
    Very interesting…
    I need more info..that means more researching!
    Bye!

    P.S. If you have any information,please write a comment.
    Thankyou.

    Reply
  27. Skyler -  January 19, 2011 - 12:44 pm

    The Tetris effect occurs when people devote sufficient time and attention to an activity that it begins to overshadow their thoughts, mental images, and dreams.

    Reply
  28. sean -  January 19, 2011 - 11:45 am

    What exactly is the “Tetris Effect”?

    Reply
  29. Aaron -  January 19, 2011 - 11:20 am

    Games have evolved so much since tetris, let alone Atari. I enjoy playing vintage games such as tetris, but things like Killing Floor, Garry’s mod, call of duty, World of Warcraft, those things are the new tetris!

    Reply
  30. Adeel -  January 19, 2011 - 9:47 am

    The article should also have mentioned the ‘Tetris Effect’.

    Reply
  31. Zach -  January 19, 2011 - 9:44 am

    I would like to confirm this research on the medical effects of this game. My dad served in the Vietnam war, and was sent home a bit early when he survived the blast from a Directional AP Mine (“Claymore”). He seemed a bit strange, to say the least, for quite a few years. In 95, I introduced him to Tetris, which he quickly became good at and over time he began to act like he used to. He and I still play it occasionally, when I see him.

    Reply
  32. Lauren -  January 19, 2011 - 9:18 am

    So what does the game have to do with tennis?

    Reply
  33. Mr. D [A.K.A] Elysian -  January 19, 2011 - 9:15 am

    Ah, i just found my nitendo64 last week i’ve been playing Tetris frequently

    Reply
  34. Arth -  January 19, 2011 - 8:18 am

    Interesting…I used to play it for hours some years ago…

    Reply
  35. nathan -  January 19, 2011 - 8:09 am

    woow

    Reply
  36. nathan -  January 19, 2011 - 8:08 am

    lol cool

    Reply
  37. Joe -  January 19, 2011 - 7:28 am

    In this context at least, Tetris is a trademark. Trademarks do not necessarily MEAN anything, and to be eligible for exclusive right (which most self-respecting trademark owners aim at) a trademark may only be suggestive at the most, i.e. never directly descriptive of the corresponding goods or services. Trademarks may be coined words (Kodak), words taken out of their “normal” usage (Apple for computers), and of course, trademarks may be something else entirely than words – logos, images and other graphic elements, even colours, sounds or smells! Yes, sometimes there is a story behind a trademark, but as a rule, trademarks that are wordmarks are no ordinary words and, as already said, do not necessarily have a semantic meaning, and it may actually do them more harm than justice to force a meaning upon them. The worst case scenario for a trademark would be to become diluted, which means becoming a generic term. This has happened to Nylon, Styrofoam, Escalator and hundreds of others.

    Reply
  38. BIG-ISH -  January 19, 2011 - 6:54 am

    interesting

    Reply
  39. sam -  January 19, 2011 - 6:29 am

    good research

    Reply
  40. Kaburzaky -  January 19, 2011 - 6:13 am

    So tetris is Russian I always knew it because the song is a Russian hymn

    Reply

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