Bosworth Toller's


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  • noun [ feminineneuter ]
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tæfl, e; f.: es ; n.(?): tæfle, an(?); f.
Wright's OE grammar
Properly a board for the playing of a game. But the word seems also used of a game played on such a board: cf. the use of the word tables at a later time
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  • Wyþ pleyynge at tables oþer atte chekere,

    • R. Glouc. 192, 3.
  • Kueade gemenes of des and of tables huer me playþ nor pans,

    • Ayenb. 45, 16.
  • Tabulies


    (15th cent.),
    • Wrt. Voc. i. 202, col. 2.
  • See also Strutt's Sports,

    • Bk. iv, c. 2.
The word seems to denote also a die used in playing a game. What was the precise nature of the games, to which this word and related forms are applied, does not appear; some of the references below would imply that games of chance are meant, and this would be in keeping with the love of gaming which Tacitus, Germ. c. 24, noticed among the Germans. But games of skill like chess may sometimes be meant. In Icelandic tafl is used of chess or draughts, as well as of dicing, and the Danes in England seem to have played chess (see
  • Thrupp's Anglo-Saxon Home, c. xvi, sec. 7
and in
O. H. Ger. scah-zabel
= scacarium
Among the Welsh, too, was a game something like draughts, called tawlbwrdd
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  • (
    • Thrupp, p. 388

    :-- Tefil, tebl, teblae


    • Txts. 36, 6.
  • Tæfl,

    • Wrt. Voc. ii. 8, 7.
    Incipit de alea. Tæfl alea, ic tæfle tæflum

    cotizo tesseris,

    • i. 284, 28, 31.
  • Tæfel,

    • 66, 47.
  • Tæfel alea, cynningstán on tæfle pirgus (cf. O. H. Ger. zabel-bret pirgus), feðerscíte tæfel tessere vel


    • 39, 45-49.
  • Tæslum tesellum ( = tæflum


    • Wülck. Gl. 526, 5
    • ),
    • ii. 93, 44.
  • Dryhten dǽleþ sumum tæfle cræft, bleóbordes gebregd,

    • Exon. Th. 331, 19;
    • Vy 70.
  • Sum biþ hræd tæfle, sum biþ gewittig æt wínþege,

    • 297, 25;
    • Crä. 73.
  • Hý twegen sceolon tæfle ymbsittan ... habban him gomen on borde,

    • 345, 2;
    • Gn. Ex. 182.
[Sum men pleoden on tæuelbrede (mid tauel, 2nd MS.), Laym. 8133.
O. H. Ger. zabel;
n. alea,
wurf-zabel alea, tessera: Icel.
tafl; n. a game; tafla a piece used in a game.] See the following words.
Linked entries
v.  tebl.
Full form


  • tæfl, n.