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[foo t-bawl] /ˈfʊtˌbɔl/
a game in which two opposing teams of 11 players each defend goals at opposite ends of a field having goal posts at each end, with points being scored chiefly by carrying the ball across the opponent's goal line and by place-kicking or drop-kicking the ball over the crossbar between the opponent's goal posts.
Compare conversion (def 13), field goal (def 1), safety (def 6), touchdown.
the ball used in this game, an inflated oval with a bladder contained in a casing usually made of leather.
Chiefly British. Rugby (def 3).
Chiefly British. soccer.
something sold at a reduced or special price.
any person or thing treated roughly or tossed about:
They're making a political football of this issue.
(initial capital letter) U.S. Government Slang. a briefcase containing the codes and options the president would use to launch a nuclear attack, carried by a military aide and kept available to the president at all times.
verb (used with object)
Informal. to offer for sale at a reduced or special price.
Origin of football
First recorded in 1350-1400, football is from the Middle English word fut ball. See foot, ball1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for football
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In his youth he had overtaxed his strength on the football field.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • When I had finished, I was as hot and dirty as if it were half-time at a football match.

    The Stark Munro Letters J. Stark Munro
  • Also 'twas Willie who thought of the paper bein' in the football.

    The Depot Master Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Why, Loosh, I thought you were an invalid; you look like a football player.

    Galusha the Magnificent Joseph C. Lincoln
  • I like football immensely and dancing too, but there is something else in life.

    Mary-'Gusta Joseph C. Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for football


  1. any of various games played with a round or oval ball and usually based on two teams competing to kick, head, carry, or otherwise propel the ball into each other's goal, territory, etc See association football, rugby, Australian Rules, American football, Gaelic football
  2. (as modifier): a football ground, a football supporter
the ball used in any of these games or their variants
a problem, issue, etc, that is continually passed from one group or person to another and treated as a pretext for argument instead of being resolved: he accused the government of using the strike as a political football
Derived Forms
footballer, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for football

open-air game, first recorded c.1400; see foot (n.) + ball (n.1). Forbidden in a Scottish statute of 1424. The first reference to the ball itself is late 15c. Figurative sense of "something idly kicked around" is first recorded 1530s. Ball-kicking games date back to the Roman legions, at least, but the sport seems to have risen to a national obsession in England, c.1630. Rules first regularized at Cambridge, 1848; soccer (q.v.) split off in 1863.

The U.S. style (known to some in England as "stop-start rugby with padding") evolved gradually 19c.; the first true collegiate game is considered to have been played Nov. 6, 1869, between Princeton and Rutgers, at Rutgers, but the rules there were more like soccer. A rematch at Princeton Nov. 13, with the home team's rules, was true U.S. football. The earliest recorded application of the word football to this is from 1881.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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