[ foot-bawl ]
See synonyms for football on
  1. 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.

  2. the ball used in this game, an inflated oval with a bladder contained in a casing usually made of leather.

  1. Chiefly British. Rugby (def. 1).

  2. Chiefly British. soccer.

  3. something sold at a reduced or special price.

  4. any person or thing treated roughly or tossed about: They're making a political football of this issue.

  5. (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)
  1. Informal. to offer for sale at a reduced or special price.

Origin of football

First recorded in 1350–1400, football is from Middle English fut ball. See foot, ball1

Words Nearby football Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use football in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for football


/ (ˈfʊtˌbɔːl) /

  1. the ball used in any of these games or their variants

  1. 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 of football

  • 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