[ uhm-pahyuhr ]
/ ˈʌm paɪər /
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See synonyms for: umpire / umpired / umpiring on Thesaurus.com


a person selected to rule on the plays in a game.
one selected to settle disputes about the application of settled rules or usages; a person agreed on by disputing parties to arbitrate their differences.

verb (used with object), um·pired, um·pir·ing.

to act as umpire in (a game).
to decide or settle (a controversy, dispute, or the like) as umpire; arbitrate.

verb (used without object), um·pired, um·pir·ing.

to act as umpire.



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Origin of umpire

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English umpere, variant of noumpere (a noumpere taken as an oumpere; cf. adder1, apron), from Old French nomper, nonper “arbiter,” i.e., “one not equal.” See non-, peer1

synonym study for umpire

2. See judge.


un·um·pired, adjective


empire, umpire
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does umpire mean?

An umpire is a kind of referee who enforces the rules during certain sports, such as baseball, softball, and cricket.

In higher levels of baseball and softball, there are often multiple umpires on the field. They are primarily responsible for determining whether base runners are “safe” or “out.” The most important one is the home plate umpire, who determines whether each pitch is a “ball” or a “strike.”

Umpire is also sometimes used to refer to someone who acts as an impartial judge during some kind of conflict, such as two friends having an argument, as in Jane and Mike were losing their tempers with each other at the meeting so I had to step in and act as an umpire until they calmed down. 

Less commonly, umpire can be used as a verb meaning to perform the duties of an umpire, as in I signed up to umpire my daughter’s softball games. 

An informal short form of umpire is ump, which can also be used as both a noun and a verb. It’s especially used as an informal way to address an umpire, as in Hey, ump, that was way out of the strike zone!

Example: The umpire called him out, but I’m pretty sure he was safe.

Where does umpire come from?

The first records of the word umpire come from the 1300s. It comes from the Old French nomper, meaning “arbiter” or “one who is not equal,” from non-, “not,” and per, “peer” or “equal.” Nomper was adopted into Middle English as noumpere but eventually became umpere—the first two letters were struck out because people heard “a noumpere” as “an umpere.” This is called metanalysis, and the same thing happened in words like apron (originally napron) and nickname (originally ekename).

Umpires are most commonly associated with baseball, but other sports have umpires. In professional American football, the umpire is one of several officials who each have different titles and responsibilities. Tennis has chair umpires and line umpires. In other sports, the person in this position is called a referee or judge. In all such cases, the role of the umpire or referee is to be an enforcer of the rules who does not favor either player or team. Being an umpire is often seen as a thankless job since players and fans are known for arguing with their calls (which, yes, are sometimes terrible).

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What are some synonyms for umpire?

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

What are some words that often get used in discussing umpire?

How is umpire used in real life?

The word umpire is most commonly associated with baseball, but the title is used in other sports.



Try using umpire!

Is umpire used correctly in the following sentence?

I ended up having to umpire their argument by acting as the voice of reason.

Example sentences from the Web for umpire

British Dictionary definitions for umpire

/ (ˈʌmpaɪə) /


an official who rules on the playing of a game, as in cricket or baseball
a person who rules on or judges disputes between contesting parties


to act as umpire in (a game, dispute, or controversy)

Derived forms of umpire

umpireship or umpirage, noun

Word Origin for umpire

C15: by mistaken division from a noumpere, from Old French nomper not one of a pair, from nom-, non- not + per equal, peer 1
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