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[sahyd-lahyn] /ˈsaɪdˌlaɪn/
a line at the side of something.
a business or activity pursued in addition to one's primary business; a second occupation.
an additional or auxiliary line of goods:
a grocery store with a sideline of household furnishings.
  1. either of the two lines defining the side boundaries of a field or court.
  2. sidelines, the area immediately beyond either sideline, where the substitute players sit.
sidelines, the position or point of view taken by a person who observes an activity or situation but does not directly participate in it.
verb (used with object), sidelined, sidelining.
to render incapable of participation, especially in anything involving vigorous, physical action, as a sport:
An injury to his throwing arm sidelined the quarterback for two weeks.
Origin of sideline
An Americanism dating back to 1685-95; side1 + line1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for sidelines
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • From the sidelines it seemed as though they were wrestling with an invisible octopus.

  • The sidelines of the gang came through force of circumstances.

    Jack O' Judgment Edgar Wallace
  • Bill and Lee, on the sidelines by the hangars, did not find all this very exciting.

    Battling the Clouds Captain Frank Cobb
  • No one in all the world would have given so much to watch it from the sidelines.

    Red Dynamite Roy J. Snell
  • Johnny whispered as he crouched on the sidelines waiting for action.

    Red Dynamite Roy J. Snell
British Dictionary definitions for sidelines


plural noun
(sport) the area immediately outside the playing area, where substitute players sit
the peripheral areas of any region, organization, etc


(sport) a line that marks the side boundary of a playing area
a subsidiary interest or source of income
an auxiliary business activity or line of merchandise
verb (transitive)
to prevent (a player) from taking part in a game
to prevent (a person) from pursuing a particular activity, operation, career, etc
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 sidelines



also side-line, "line on the side of a fish," 1768; "lines marking the limits of playing area" (on a football field, etc.), 1862, from side (adj.) + line (q.v.). Meaning "course of business aside from one's regular occupation" is from 1890. Railway sense is from 1890. The figurative sense of "position removed from active participation" is attested from 1934 (from the railway sense or from sports, because players who are not in the game stand along the sidelines). The verb meaning "put out of play" is from 1945. Related: Sidelined; sidelining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with sidelines


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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