foot·​ball | \ ˈfu̇t-ˌbȯl How to pronounce football (audio) \

Definition of football

1 : any of several games played between two teams on a usually rectangular field having goalposts or goals at each end and whose object is to get the ball over a goal line, into a goal, or between goalposts by running, passing, or kicking: such as
a British : soccer
b British : rugby
c : an American game played between two teams of 11 players each in which the ball is in possession of one side at a time and is advanced by running or passing
2a : an inflated oval ball used in the game of football
b British : a soccer ball
3 : something treated roughly especially as the subject of a prolonged dispute the issue became a political football in Congress

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Other Words from football

footballer \ ˈfu̇t-​ˌbȯ-​lər How to pronounce footballer (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

The game of US football evolved in the 19th century as a combination of rugby and soccer. The first intercollegiate match was played in 1869 between Princeton University and Rutgers College. In 1873, the first collegiate rules were standardized and the Ivy League was formed. Collegiate football grew into one of the most popular American sports. Professional football began in the 1890s, but did not become a major sport until after World War II. The National Football League (NFL) was formed (from an earlier association) in 1922; in 1966 it subsumed the rival American Football League (created in 1959). The NFL is now divided into an American and a National conference; the conference winners compete for the Super Bowl championship. A Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio.

Examples of football in a Sentence

He played a lot of football in high school and college.
Recent Examples on the Web Join our Facebook Group, The Ruling Off the Field, to engage in friendly debate and conversation with fellow football fans and our NFL insiders. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL power rankings: Packers claim No. 1 spot, three teams crack top five in aftermath of Chiefs' first loss," 14 Oct. 2020 During the process, more than 500 deteriorated and contaminated buildings were removed – about the footprint of about 225 football fields. Vivian Jones, Washington Examiner, "Former Tennessee uranium enrichment complex marks cleanup milestone," 14 Oct. 2020 Willoughby South’s OHSAA Division II football playoff game Friday against Benedictine is back on, and the Rebels are returning to the field Tuesday to begin preparation for it. Matt Goul, cleveland, "Willoughby South to play Benedictine in OHSAA football playoffs; Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools clear athletics," 13 Oct. 2020 Allowed to return: C team football; flag football; debate, drama and forensics; bowling; and gymnastics. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Hundreds of potential coronavirus quarantines around Alaska in the wake of youth hockey tournament," 13 Oct. 2020 Watching baseball, soccer and football be the guinea pigs for a while should provide some more ideas on how to implement a non-bubble 2020-21 season. Joe Freeman, oregonlive, "Roadmap to 2020-21 NBA season, Houston Rockets' coaching search, bubble changes that might last, emotional Erik Spoelstra: NBA news and notes," 13 Oct. 2020 In addition to creating one-on-one connections, Goldzweig and Brickman constructed group events, such as weekly book clubs, fantasy football conversations and discussions after episodes of The Bachelorette. Washington Post, "Making friends during a pandemic is tough. Two college students created a website to help.," 13 Oct. 2020 One of the experiments, NASA's Deorbit, Descent and Landing Sensor Demonstration project, is aimed at developing technology that will allow spacecraft to make precision landings on the moon in an area half the size of a football field. William Harwood, CBS News, "Bezos' Blue Origin launches unpiloted New Shepard capsule to edge of space," 13 Oct. 2020 Puma: Stock up on bold Puma athleisure, performance and even football boots for up to 30% off their retail price tag for two days only. Banu Ibrahim, CNN Underscored, "Your A to Z guide to the best Amazon Prime Day Deals in the UK," 13 Oct. 2020

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

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First Known Use of football

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for football

Time Traveler

The first known use of football was in the 15th century

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Statistics for football

Last Updated

17 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Football.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for football


How to pronounce football (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of football

US : an American game that is played between two teams of 11 players each and in which the ball is moved forward by running or passing
: a similar Canadian game between two teams of 12 players each
: a ball filled with air that is used in the game of football


foot·​ball | \ ˈfu̇t-ˌbȯl How to pronounce football (audio) \

Kids Definition of football

1 : a game played with an oval ball on a large field by two teams of eleven players that move the ball by kicking, passing, or running with it
2 : the ball used in football

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More from Merriam-Webster on football

Nglish: Translation of football for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of football for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about football

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