first down

noun
|Updated on: 7 Jul 2018

Definition of first down

1 : the first of a series of usually four downs in which a football team must net a 10-yard gain to retain possession of the ball
2 : a gain of a total of 10 or more yards within usually four downs giving the team the right to start a new series of downs

Examples of first down in a Sentence

  1. They have first down on the 20-yard line.

  2. The pass was completed for a first down.

Recent Examples of first down from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'first down.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of first down

1885

in the meaning defined at sense 1

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FIRST DOWN Defined for English Language Learners

first down

Definition of first down for English Language Learners

  • American football : the first of a series of usually four downs in which a team must gain 10 yards to keep the ball; also : the right to start a new series of downs after a gain of 10 or more yards


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