Etymology: the word fiche in a changing world

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The word Fiche, what can you say about it? It is striking in the casino world that only Dutch and Italians use the word fiche. Spaniards have a different form, ficha. All other Western countries speak of token, token, chip, casino token, casino token and the like.

So the French don't use it. While that is where the origin of our word sheet lies! It comes from the French verb ficher. That means something like organizing, classifying, systemizing. But also throw it down and even throw it according to some dictionaries. So quite a suitable name.

The word fiche

We can imagine something about throwing and throwing. After all, a chip is a disc that is used with certain games. In the flea game, the small discs are as large as a euro cent, but thinner. In the casino they are usually disks the size of a 2 euro coin, but thicker.

Older visitors to Online Casino Ground may also have an image when organizing and organizing. A fact sheet is sometimes used as a name for a ticket in a Rolodex. Some notaries speak of fiches when they put their card details in order.

The sheet is also related to a poster. That may have been due to the cards once. The verb afficher means to show or to show. We have replaced the derived word poster, nowadays the large printed image that we are hanging somewhere, with poster since the Americanization of our language.

In the casino

The word fiche is still used in Dutch casinos, but it is often referred to as chips. And not only in poker, where the word chips is traditionally used. Probably the word fiche disappears faster due to the ongoing globalization and online games than we think from our language.

In the casino we use chips. They then represent a value. In many cases this is a monetary value, but it can also be a game value. In all games it is important to win as many chips as possible or more chips than your opponent.


the word token - token or chip

Token from Las Vegas

To us they are chips, but in most foreign casinos the word token is used. We therefore forget the word fiche here and keep it token. The nice thing about that word is that, according to some linguists, it is derived from the Dutch word sign. That then again comes from a Germanic word. But the discussion about the origin is still ongoing and there are regularly new explanations and anecdotes. So let's continue the etymology of the word token.

It is certain that the word token nowadays has multiple meanings and user environments. The token in the casino represents a value in the same way as the word chip. In a sentence such as "a token of appreciation" (a sign of appreciation) it is about emotional value. A token can also be a number, for example for transferring a domain name. And so there are many more applications.

Because of all these uses, a word is often added in daily life. Then we speak of casino token, security token, metro token. Of course you don't have to use that extra word in a casino.


The word token refers to both the symbol of value and the disc itself. More often than with the word fiche we think, especially when we are abroad, at the token of a coin. The bumper car token is a coin that you buy to start a bumper car at the fair. And a laundrette coin only works in the laundry machines.

As we saw above with the word fiche, a casino token is a coin that we use to determine the value of our stake. The operation is therefore reversed to the coin of the bumper car or washing machine. There you buy a coin to operate a machine, which is of course also possible with a slot machine. With a casino token, a coin for your bet, you hope to win more. You then "sell" it to the casino in exchange for real currency.

Cash value and the chicken

With coin we think of money value and the money world. And that is exactly where the token and the token originated. We can go very far back. Because once the money world (or trade) started exchanging. A chicken for a bread, a bread for building material, building material for a ham, half a ham for a chicken leg and so on.

Coins and banknotes came later and we exchanged them with a product or service. When gambling, money was used from that moment on. But also with tokens. Such a token could be a bone, a stone or something similar. It represented a monetary value when money was played, but it also had a different function with certain games. For example that of pawn.

Counters and tokens

Gradually those tokens got a standard shape, for example only stones. That made calculating a lot easier. After all, two stones against three stones is easier than against three bones.

From such a solid form the fiche arose in the 18th century, which was really called at the time. In the beginning they were registered cards, which the winner of a game could exchange with his opponent for money. In that form, the token continued to exist for a long time alongside other forms (coins or tokens such as the stone).

A new shape emerged in the mid-19th century that already resembled the token as we know it today. The personal card became a disc with a value on it.


At the end of the 19th century, the disc with the name fiche or token was introduced at various places in society, including in the casino world. The vending machine was also invented at that time. These are devices in which you have to put a coin in order to operate them, such as a slot machine or soft drink machine.

On a large scale, "petty thieves" developed metal discs with which they could also operate those devices. To replace coins, to prevent fraud, they also introduced tokens or tokens for those devices. With hundreds of small inventions in that period, vending machines and the detection of real coins and tokens improved considerably.

Changed materials

the word fiche - rectangular tokens

Rectangular tokens

In the beginning the tokens in the casino were made of clay. Because crooks also quickly copied, casino owners had to look for other materials. The fraud naturally did not stop with those other materials, such as metal and plastic.

As a result, other forms came, such as rectangular, serrated and enlarged tokens. They were printed differently, so that they could only be used in the casino in question. The developments of the casino token became a separate story.

Psychological research

In the meantime, casino owners had long realized that the fake money, which is actually a token, had advantages. Gamblers could not quickly pick up their stake and run out of the casino if they were going to lose, because outside the casino their chips were worth nothing.

But especially the visitors continued to play with the tokens for longer and bet more and higher. All kinds of psychological research confirmed this. That didn't necessarily have to be research at the casino. Research into credit card use and discount coupons in supermarkets, for example, also provided insights into human behavior. These insights were translated into applications in the casino and in other places.


Such an application is, for example, regularly changing the imprint of tokens. This prevents fraud. But it has also entered a whole new market. The collectors. They must return to a casino regularly to add the latest token to their collection. An affordable customer binder; the purchase cost of a casino token is less than 50 cents.

As everywhere, the value of a token on the collective market depends on supply and demand. It is a world of its own. Incidentally, a world where you hardly encounter the word fiche. The disk from the casino is called a token or chip.

More casino etymology

You now know that the French don't even use the French word chip themselves! It is strange that we Dutch do that together with the Italians. Curious about the meaning or origin of other casino-related concepts? Read more immediately about the word casino, gambling or lottery!

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