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
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 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

College football is more than a sport in many parts of this country. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Tim Tebow wasn’t wrong about one important thing," 17 Sep. 2019 Roane County High School senior Alex Miller collapsed during a football game at nearby Clay County High School on Friday. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "2 high school football players die in separate on-field incidents," 17 Sep. 2019 Several principals said the national anthem is often played at football games, pep rallies and other events, while the state song is played less often. Tegan Hanlon, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage School Board considers requiring national anthem and Alaska state song once a month in every school," 17 Sep. 2019 Brees will see a hand specialist as soon as possible, but not being able to grip the football is, obviously, an impossible situation for a quarterback, particularly one with the Midas touch that Brees owns. Barry Wilner,, "Seeing Brees and Big Ben on sideline is very odd," 16 Sep. 2019 Dogfish Head’s founding stainless steel boil kettle and vibrating football game joined the growing archive of homebrewing and craft beer history that is being built by the museum’s American Brewing History Initiative. Theresa Mcculla, Smithsonian, "Here’s What’s Brewing in the New Smithsonian Beer Collections," 16 Sep. 2019 The average time to play an FBS college football game last season was 3 hours, 18 minutes. oregonlive, "Oregon State’s 2-hour, 44-minute game against Cal Poly is the program’s quickest since 1995," 16 Sep. 2019 The shooting occurred Saturday at about 11:20 p.m., three hours after UCLA's football game against the University of Oklahoma, the police department said in a statement. Lexy Perez, The Hollywood Reporter, "Shooting at Rose Bowl Parking Lot Leaves One Dead, Another Injured," 15 Sep. 2019 Three teenagers were shot at a football game on Friday night in Newport News, Va., and all three are expected to survive, police said on Twitter Saturday morning. Madeleine Carlisle, Time, "3 Teens Shot at a Virginia High School Football Game, Police Say. All Expected to Survive," 14 Sep. 2019

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



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

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

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