check·​down ˈchek-ˌdau̇n How to pronounce checkdown (audio)
plural checkdowns
American football
: a short pass play to a running back or tight end that the quarterback chooses after reading the defensive coverage and seeing no play downfield
I just took what the defense gave me, hit my checkdowns, hit short stuff.Eli Manning, quoted in Sporting News, 22 Dec. 2008
Running back Warrick Dunn might be the most underrated back in the league. Dunn … is a serious threat as a receiver. He's a dangerous checkdown target …Brad Biggs, Chicago Sun-Times, 18 Dec. 2005

Word History


from the verb phrase check down (to) "move to the next option (on the list of receivers)"

First Known Use

1981, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of checkdown was in 1981

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Dictionary Entries Near checkdown

Cite this Entry

“Checkdown.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

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