pole vault

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noun Track.
a field event in which a leap or vault over a crossbar is performed with the aid of a long pole.
a leap or vault so performed.
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Origin of pole vault

First recorded in 1890–95

Other definitions for pole vault (2 of 2)

[ pohl-vawlt ]
/ ˈpoʊlˌvɔlt /

verb (used without object)
to execute a pole vault.

Origin of pole-vault

First recorded in 1890–95


pole-vaulter, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does pole vault mean?

Pole vault is a track-and-field competition in which athletes attempt to jump over an elevated crossbar by vaulting themselves up and over it with a long, flexible pole.

An attempt in this event (the vault itself) is also called a pole vault. A competitor in the pole vault can be called a pole vaulter.

Pole vaulters begin each vault attempt with a running start before planting the pole in a “box” on the ground while continuing to hold it, thereby using their momentum to spring into the air as the pole bends and carries them to a position where they can arch their body feet-first over the crossbar.

During the competition, the crossbar continues to be raised after each round so that competitors can continue to attempt higher vaults (with some getting eliminated if they knock off the bar or cannot clear it). Competitors usually get three attempts to complete a vault.

The pole vault is a track-and-field event in the summer Olympic Games (the Summer Games) and it is also part of the modern decathlon.

The track-and-field event known as the high jump also involves clearing a cross bar at the highest possible height, but high jumpers do this simply by leaping over the bar (without using a pole to vault themselves).

Example: I am training for the pole vault and the high jump with my track-and-field team.

Where does pole vault come from?

The first records of the term pole vault as a name for the track-and-field event come from the 1890s. The word vault can specifically mean “to leap with the hands supported by something, as by a horizontal pole.” In gymnastics, the word vault means something different—“to leap over using the hands for pushing off”— and is also used as the name of the event in which gymnasts vault off of a vaulting horse.

In the 1500s, the practice of using a pole to leap for distance or height (which was sometimes done for practical reasons, such as moving over rocky terrain) gained some popularity as a sport. Pole vaulting, as it came to be known, was adopted as an official sport in Germany in the 1850s.

The pole vault was introduced to the Olympic Games at the first modern Olympics in 1896 and has been included in every Summer Olympics since. A women’s pole vault was added to the Olympics in 2000.

Poles used for the pole vault are often made of flexible fiberglass, but can also be made of wood, bamboo, or certain metals.

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What are some other forms related to pole vault?

  • pole vaulter (noun)

What are some synonyms for pole vault?

  • vault (in reference to an attempt in the event)

What are some words that share a root or word element with pole vault

What are some words that often get used in discussing pole vault?

How is pole vault used in real life?

Most people are familiar with the pole vault as a track-and-field event at the Summer Olympics.

Try using pole vault!

True or False?

The pole vault is performed from a standing position.

How to use pole vault in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for pole vault

pole vault

the pole vault a field event in which competitors attempt to clear a high bar with the aid of an extremely flexible long pole
a single attempt in the pole vault
verb pole-vault
(intr) to perform a pole vault or compete in the pole vault

Derived forms of pole vault

pole-vaulter, 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