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Origin of play-by-play
Words nearby play-by-play
What does play-by-play mean?
A play-by-play is a running commentary on or a detailed summary of an event, used especially in sports.
Where does play-by-play come from?
Giving a play-by-play in sports is the act of relaying every detail of a game as it happens, each play (or “action in the game”) by play. The adverbial phrase emerges in the context of baseball as early as 1889, with its adjective form (e.g., play-by-play commentary) and noun form (a play-by-play) following in the early 1900s. A play-by-play announcer, or sports commentator, became an important position in sports journalism since the first voice broadcast of a baseball game in 1921.
In the 20th century, play-by-play sports commentary spread from radio to television to the internet and from baseball to other sports and contests, helping to popularize the term play-by-play as a colloquial one used for an analysis of various events, from concerts and parties to job interviews and first dates.
To comment on something play by play or give a play-a-play is now widely familiar in the popular lexicon. The 2004 romantic comedy 13 Going on 30 has a character casually telling another not to give someone a play-by-play, as just one instance, and a New Zealand games festival is called Play by Play.
How is play-by-play used in real life?
Outside of its still frequent use in sports and sports journalism, a play-by-play can either be asked for (Give me the play-by-play! or Tell me what happened, play by play) or given (Here’s the play-by-play). It typically relates to an exciting or dramatic social or personal event (e.g., how a marriage proposal unfolded).
On social media, live-tweeting or snapping (using Snapchat) an event, such as the Oscars or a political debate, is sometimes called or likened to play-by-play commentary.
As suggested in 13 Going on 30, a play-by-play isn’t always desirable, providing more information than may be needed or called for, and so the phrase is often used in negative constructions (Spare me the play-by-play and get to the point).
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for play-by-play
Have there been discussions with FX regarding an Archer movie, and how do you think that would play out?‘Archer’ Creator Adam Reed Spills Season 6 Secrets, From Surreal Plotlines to Life Post-ISIS|Marlow Stern|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Father Joel Román Salazar died in a car crash in 2013; his death was ruled an accident, but the suspicion of foul play persists.
He plays an aging punk rocker and I play the drummer from his old band.Coffee Talk with Fred Armisen: On ‘Portlandia,’ Meeting Obama, and Taylor Swift’s Greatness|Marlow Stern|January 7, 2015|DAILY BEAST
When fathers hold and play with their children, oxytocin and prolactin kick in, priming them for bonding.
Ironically, the play deals with the ‘management’ of information by the Establishment.Harry’s Daddy, and Diana’s ‘Murder’: Royal Rumors In a New Play|Tom Sykes|January 4, 2015|DAILY BEAST
I assure you, no matter how beautifully we play any piece, the minute Liszt plays it, you would scarcely recognize it!
But I hope at least to play to him a few times, and what is more important, to hear him play repeatedly.
All along the highways and by-paths of our literature we encounter much that pertains to this "queen of plants."
To fill up the time till Liszt came, our hostess made us play, one after the other, beginning with the latest arrival.
Again the sallow fingers began to play with the book-covers, passing from one to another, but always slowly and gently.Bella Donna|Robert Hichens