of bridge was Whist. Whist went through many
stages of evolution and in the 18th century became very popular with
all classes. With the migration towards the New World,
sailors and immigrants took along their card games and they became very popular
in (what is now called) the United States.
Around the 1890's the game of Bridge was
introduced to the United States. The rules of the game underwent many changes made by
its players. Harold Vanderbilt did much
to perfect Bridge in 1925. He introduced rules, principles, treatments and even
a scoring table. His established rules became so popular that his game, called
Contract Bridge, was adopted by the majority of players.
How did the card game come to be called Bridge? An
interesting question, because no one knows
precisely where the name "Bridge"
came from, although it is fairly certain that it has nothing to do with other meaning
of the word bridge.
The invention of
bridge in the 19th century was, evidently, based on a card game long popular in
the Near East and known at that time as Russian Whist. The
word Whist itself, by the way, is an old British equivalent of shhh!, and is a
natural name for a game that demands silence from its players. Russian Whist
was also known as "biritch" or "britch", both of which sound
Russian although neither of them seems to be an actual Russian word. In any
case, once the British took up the game, "britch"
became "bridge" through a process
known as folk etymology, which is a fancy way of saying that people often
substitute a word they do know for one they don't, even when the substitution
makes no sense.
So, the answer is
that the name "bridge" seems almost
entirely random and apparently does not mean a thing!