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What's with all the bowls?

Ken is the author of Because I Said So!, Maphead, Brainiac, and Ken Jennings's Trivia Almanac.

What's with all the bowls?

Postby beckyl » Mon Oct 27, 2008 7:54 pm

G'day all, from the sunny antipodes,

I have a question - I am about 75% through Brainiac (fab, thanks for asking), and something has struck me about US terms - why is a competition or a tournament called a "bowl"? I used to think that the Superbowl must relate to the shape of the stadiums it would be played in, so why would a trivia comp be called a bowl? While I was musing on this, I also thought about "bees", in the same sense. A bee is a group working together - a spelling bee is anything but. My Australian Modern Oxford Dictionary offers no relevant, non-vessel like meaning for "bowl", unless you count the sporting usage and "he bowled her over". Here's one for the Commonwealth cricket fans - to bowl a maiden over.

So what's with all the bowls and bees? Can't they just be competitions or tournaments? Or games?

Help me, Obi Wan Ken-obi!
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Postby enielsen » Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:33 am

I think it's probably just an extension of the sports usage of "bowl" (which is derived presumably from the bowl shape of football stadiums). Sort of like how all political (or even nonpolitical) scandals are referred to as something "gate", after Watergate, even though very few of them are related in any way to that hotel.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:26 am

Anybody know what the first "Bowl"-named amphitheater was? I have no idea. Hollywood Bowl goes back to 1922.
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Postby skullturfq » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:45 am

enielsen wrote:I think it's probably just an extension of the sports usage of "bowl" (which is derived presumably from the bowl shape of football stadiums). Sort of like how all political (or even nonpolitical) scandals are referred to as something "gate", after Watergate, even though very few of them are related in any way to that hotel.


Perhaps a similar phenomenon is when people use the suffix "holic" to refer to addictions to things that don't end in "hol" -- chocoholic, shopaholic.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:03 am

It's true, I love to drink shopahol.
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Postby Craig S. Cottingham » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:39 am

Ken Jennings wrote:Anybody know what the first "Bowl"-named amphitheater was? I have no idea. Hollywood Bowl goes back to 1922.

Wikipedia sez bowl game comes from the Rose Bowl Stadium (also 1922), which name in turn was derived from the Yale Bowl (1914).
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Postby TheConfessor » Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:27 am

I always figured the "bowl" term was originally based on the shape of the trophy awarded. But I could be mistaken. What's the deal with all the different international sporting "Cups"? Do they actually take place in stadiums shaped like cups?
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Postby skullturfq » Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:56 am

Well, you don't win the Stanley Cup without wearing a cup.
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Postby ArtVark » Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:20 pm

TheConfessor wrote:I always figured the "bowl" term was originally based on the shape of the trophy awarded. But I could be mistaken. What's the deal with all the different international sporting "Cups"? Do they actually take place in stadiums shaped like cups?


I think some Bowls are named after the shape of the trophy. I doubt if the Bermuda Bowl has anything to do with the shape of the building in which it is played.
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Postby khiddy » Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:17 pm

skullturfq wrote:Perhaps a similar phenomenon is when people use the suffix "holic" to refer to addictions to things that don't end in "hol" -- chocoholic, shopaholic.


"I'm a rageaholic! I'm addicted to rageahol!" -- Homer J. Simpson
I'm afraid I didn't get it the first time: who let the dogs out?
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Postby Craig S. Cottingham » Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:07 pm

ArtVark wrote:I think some Bowls are named after the shape of the trophy. I doubt if the Bermuda Bowl has anything to do with the shape of the building in which it is played.


I suspect that at this point all Bowls are named after the Rose Bowl, whether or not they realize it.
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Postby JLF » Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:11 pm

I think it's something to do with Liza Minelli. But aren't most things?
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think back farther...

Postby ginginny » Sat May 16, 2009 4:52 am

the coliseum is bowl shaped
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