[ kwawr-ter-bak ]
/ ˈkwɔr tərˌbæk /


a back in football who usually lines up immediately behind the center and directs the offense of the team.
the position played by this back.
a person who leads or directs a group or activity.

verb (used with object)

to direct the offense of (a team).
to lead or direct: to quarterback a public-relations campaign.

verb (used without object)

to play the position of quarterback.

Nearby words

  1. quarter-hour,
  2. quarter-miler,
  3. quarter-phase,
  4. quarter-wave plate,
  5. quarterage,
  6. quarterback sneak,
  7. quarterdeck,
  8. quartered,
  9. quarterfinal,
  10. quarterfinalist

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for quarterback

British Dictionary definitions for quarterback


/ (ˈkwɔːtəˌbæk) /

noun US and Canadian

a player in American or Canadian football, positioned usually behind the centre, who directs attacking play
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