The word tourney is often used in old-fashioned knights in armor stories to describe a jousting competition. It's not really surprising that it's connected to the word tournament, but what the correlation implies is so much more fascinating. Through a couple transitional phases, both words can be followed back to the French word tornoier, or "turn", incidentally also the source of the current word turn. This is because people back in the old days didn't just go to a tournament, they "took a turn", hence the word. Tornoier comes from the Latin word tornare, now meaning "to turn on a lathe", and metynomically, from the earlier word tornus, meaning "lathe" (a kind of wood grinder, that is). This, as many Latin words do, comes from Greek, in this instance from the cognate tornos, which is reconstructed as being from the Proto-Indo-European word tere, "to rub" (since a lathe "rubs" wood). Next time you take a "turn" "rubbing" your new trophy after a "tournament", appreciate the irony.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd