noun, plural safe·ties.
- an act or play in which a player on the offensive team is tackled in his own end zone or downs the ball there, or in which the ball goes out of bounds on a fumble, having last been in bounds in or over the end zone and having last been in the possession of an offensive player.Compare touchback.
- an award of two points to the opposing team on this play.
- Also called safety man.a player on defense who lines up farthest behind the line of scrimmage.
Origin of safety
noun plural -ties
- Also called: safetymaneither of two players who defend the area furthest back in the field
- a play in which the offensive team causes the ball to cross its own goal line and then grounds the ball behind that line, scoring two points for the opposing teamCompare touchback
early 14c., from Old French sauvete "safety, safeguard; salvation; security, surety," earlier salvetet (11c., Modern French sauveté), from Medieval Latin salvitatem (nominative salvitas) "safety," from Latin salvus (see safe (adj.)). Meaning "trigger-lock on a gun" is attested from 1881.
As a North American football position, first recorded 1931. As a type of score against one's own team, 1881. Safety-valve, which diminishes the risk of explosion, is from 1797; figurative sense recorded from 1818. Safety-net in literal sense (in machinery) by 1916, later of aerial circus performances (1920s); figurative use by 1950. Safety-first as an accident-prevention slogan first recorded 1873.