See more synonyms for quarterback on Thesaurus.com
  1. a back in football who usually lines up immediately behind the center and directs the offense of the team.
  2. the position played by this back.
  3. a person who leads or directs a group or activity.
verb (used with object)
  1. to direct the offense of (a team).
  2. to lead or direct: to quarterback a public-relations campaign.
verb (used without object)
  1. to play the position of quarterback.

Origin of quarterback

An Americanism dating back to 1875–80; quarter + back1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for quarterback


noun US and Canadian
  1. a player in American or Canadian football, positioned usually behind the centre, who directs attacking play
  2. Monday-morning quarterbacking wisdom after the event, esp by spectators
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

Word Origin and History for quarterback

in U.S. football, 1876, from quarter (n.) + back (n.); so called from his position on the field at the start of play, between the halfback and the center. As a verb from 1945. Figurative sense from 1952. Monday morning quarterback is 1932 (n.), 1972 (v.); originally pro football player slang for sportswriters (U.S. professional football games typically are played on Sundays).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper