[skawr, skohr]

noun, plural scores, score for 11.

verb (used with object), scored, scor·ing.

verb (used without object), scored, scor·ing.


    pay off/settle a score, to avenge a wrong; retaliate: In the Old West they paid off a score with bullets.

Origin of score

before 1100; (noun) Middle English; late Old English scora, score (plural; singular *scoru) group of twenty (apparently orig. notch) < Old Norse skor notch; (v.) Middle English scoren to incise, mark with lines, tally debts < Old Norse skora to notch, count by tallies; later v. senses derivative of the noun; akin to shear
Related formsscore·less, adjectivescor·er, nounnon·scor·ing, adjectiveout·score, verb (used with object), out·scored, out·scor··score, verb, re·scored, re·scor·ing.un·scored, adjectiveun·scor·ing, adjectivewell-scored, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for score

Contemporary Examples of score

Historical Examples of score

British Dictionary definitions for score



an evaluative, usually numerical, record of a competitive game or match
the total number of points made by a side or individual in a game or match
the act of scoring, esp a point or points
the score informal the actual situation; the true factsto know the score
US and Canadian the result of a test or exam
a group or set of twentythree score years and ten
(usually plural foll by of) a great number; lotsI have scores of things to do
  1. the written or printed form of a composition in which the instrumental or vocal parts appear on separate staves vertically arranged on large pages (full score) or in a condensed version, usually for piano (short score) or voices and piano (vocal score)
  2. the incidental music for a film or play
  3. the songs, music, etc, for a stage or film musical
a mark or notch, esp one made in keeping a tally
an account of amounts due
an amount recorded as due
a reason or accountthe book was rejected on the score of length
a grievance
  1. a line marking a division or boundary
  2. (as modifier)score line
informal the victim of a theft or swindle
dancing notation indicating a dancer's moves
over the score informal excessive; unfair
settle a score or pay off a score
  1. to avenge a wrong
  2. to repay a debt


to gain (a point or points) in a game or contest
(tr) to make a total score ofto score twelve
to keep a record of the score (of)
(tr) to be worth (a certain amount) in a game
(tr) US and Canadian to evaluate (a test or exam) numerically; mark
(tr) to record by making notches in
to make (cuts, lines, etc) in or on
(intr) slang to obtain something desired, esp to purchase an illegal drug
(intr) slang (of a man) to be successful in seducing a person
  1. to set or arrange (a piece of music) for specific instruments or voices
  2. to write the music for (a film, play, etc)
to achieve (success or an advantage)your idea really scored with the boss
(tr) mainly US and Canadian to criticize harshly; berate
to accumulate or keep a record of (a debt)
Derived Formsscorer, noun

Word Origin for score

Old English scora; related to Old Norse skor notch, tally, twenty
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 score

late Old English scoru "twenty," from Old Norse skor "mark, notch, incision; a rift in rock," also, in Icelandic, "twenty," from Proto-Germanic *skura-, from PIE root *(s)ker- "to cut" (see shear).

The connecting notion probably is counting large numbers (of sheep, etc.) with a notch in a stick for each 20. That way of counting, called vigesimalism, also exists in French: In Old French, "twenty" (vint) or a multiple of it could be used as a base, e.g. vint et doze ("32"), dous vinz et diz ("50"). Vigesimalism was or is a feature of Welsh, Irish, Gaelic and Breton (as well as non-IE Basque), and it is speculated that the English and the French picked it up from the Celts. Cf. tally (n.).

The prehistoric sense of the Germanic word, then, likely was "straight mark like a scratch, line drawn by a sharp instrument," but in English this is attested only from c.1400, along with the sense "mark made (on a chalkboard, etc.) to keep count of a customer's drinks in a tavern." This sense was extended by 1670s to "mark made for purpose of recording a point in a game or match," and thus "aggregate of points made by contestants in certain games and matches" (1742, originally in whist).

From the tavern-keeping sense comes the meaning "amount on an innkeeper's bill" (c.1600) and thus the figurative verbal expression settle scores (1775). Meaning "printed piece of music" first recorded 1701, said to be from the practice of connecting related staves by scores of lines. Especially "music composed for a film" (1927). Meaning "act of obtaining narcotic drugs" is by 1951.

Scoreboard is from 1826; score-keeping- from 1905; newspaper sports section score line is from 1965; baseball score-card is from 1877.


"to cut with incisions or notches," c.1400; "to record by means of notches" (late 14c.); see score (n.). Meanings "to keep record of the scores in a game, etc." and "to make or add a point for one's side in a game, etc." both attested from 1742. The slang sense, in reference to men, "achieve intercourse" first recorded 1960. Meaning "to be scorekeeper, to keep the score in a game or contest" is from 1846. In the musical sense from 1839. Related: Scored; scoring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with score


see box score; know the score; pay off (an old score); settle a score.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.