The well-known children's game which involves a pattern of squares (beds) marked on the ground, into which players throw a stone and travel across them in a series of hops and jumps, sometimes kicking the stone as they go. The pattern varies considerably within the basic oblong shape, as do the instructions as to which squares need to be avoided, the sequence of hops, and so on. As with all children's games, the terminology also varies. The general name ‘Hopscotch’ or, almost as frequent in earlier times, ‘Scotch-hoppers’, refers to hopping over the scotches, or marks scored in the ground, rather than containing any reference to Scotland. The earliest definite illustration of the game is found in Jacques Stella, Les Jeux et plaisirs de l'enfance (1657), although it is usually presumed to be much older. It is not mentioned in English until William King, Useful Transactions in Philosophy (1709), but there are numerous references from that time onwards.
The Opies identify the basic ‘ladder’ shape, with a number of equal-sized and same-shaped beds, as the earliest form, which was developed in two main ways. One was to add a semicircular bed at the top (usually used for turning round and/or resting in), the other was to divide alternate beds in half. This provides for the basic movement of hop (into a whole bed), split (one foot in each half-bed), hop, split, and so on. A further variation is to divide some beds with diagonal lines, thus quartering them. Other major variants are Spiral Hopscotch, and ball Hopscotch.
Opie and Opie, 1997: 95–109;Gomme, 1894: i. 223–7.