I have some very early memories of my mother and grandmother playing and talking about sudoku, so it felt very surprising to me that the word sudoku has only been around in English since the year 2000, a year before I was born. I was also surprised to learn that the game was not in fact invented in Japan, but by a retired American architect named Howard Garns, who called it Number Place and published it in a magazine called Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games. Number Place did okay in the states, but it got very popular in Japan in the mid-1980s, particularly because of the Nikoli puzzle company, which called it sudoku as a shortened version of the phrase suji wa dokushin ni kagiru, meaning "numbers are restricted to being alone". Finally, the London Times started printing the game in 2004, leading to it being brought back to the West with the new name.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.