foot·​ball | \ˈfu̇t-ˌbȯl \

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

d Australia : australian rules football

e Canada : canadian football

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 \ 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

In several scenes, kids are shown to be playing with bullets; at one point, football players line up by the side of the road, kneeling. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, "Miley Cyrus Releases New Music Video for Mark Ronson Song "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart"," 30 Nov. 2018 Uncle Brad says football is a plot against America and is refusing to play. Jason Gay, WSJ, "27 More Rules of Thanksgiving Family Touch Football," 19 Nov. 2018 First in episode 2, when Sabrina and the Weird Sisters are leading a group of football players into the mines, and again in episode 10 when Harvey and Sabrina are discussing Tommy Kinkle's fate. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "Did You Miss Jughead's Appearance In 'The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina?'," 30 Oct. 2018 The company got a taste of that last year, when Schnatter stepped down as CEO after blaming disappointing pizza sales on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem., "Papa John's is pulling founder's image from its marketing," 13 July 2018 Fit and athletic men age 18-24 of any ethnicity are needed to portray football players. Mary Caldwell, ajc, "Now casting: Diane Keaton movie needs football players," 11 July 2018 After a three-hour morning practice with the football team, Libertyville pitcher Peyton Jennings spent the afternoon with his second team of the day Wednesday. Bob Narang, Lake County News-Sun, "Touchdown fever: Peyton Jennings’ strong effort not enough as Libertyville loses to Prairie Ridge," 11 July 2018 And just a few years ago, Harry took his very first royal tour to New Zealand, though his itinerary, which was filled with football and rugby matches, looks a bit different this time around. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Just Arrived in New Zealand Wearing a Plaid Trench and a Poppy Pin," 27 Oct. 2018 By wrapping an incredibly thin laptop in a full-grain leather shell, HP has made a PC whose look, feel, and smell will evoke classic, covetable objects like a bomber jacket, a handbag, or a leather football or baseball. Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld, "The HP Spectre Folio is a leather-clad laptop that's luxurious," 1 Oct. 2018

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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More Definitions for football


foot·​ball | \ˈfu̇t-ˌbȯl \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with football

Spanish Central: Translation of football

Nglish: Translation of football for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on football

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