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 football (audio) \ noun

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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 This was about more than football as Finkley said when reaching for the Texas hat. Michael Casagrande |, al, 9 Sep. 2021 Take football, an industry worth more than €25 billion in Europe alone. Jonquil Hackenberg, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 That changed after Schaffeld located Harrington in the football facility. oregonlive, 9 Sep. 2021 Hoffpauir arguably was the greatest athlete ever to come through Centennial, a football and baseball standout, who played both sports at Stanford. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, 9 Sep. 2021 Of all the cities with NFL teams, Cincinnati is the overall cheapest football city to live in, according to a new report released by Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 9 Sep. 2021 High school football runs hot and deep here in Texas. Chris Quinn, San Antonio Express-News, 9 Sep. 2021 Running back Damien Harris has rarely been spotted since camp began without a football in tow., 9 Sep. 2021 On this episode: Carlos and Shawn talk about the return of college football (in-person games! Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press, 9 Sep. 2021

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near football



football/golf widow

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Statistics for football

Last Updated

12 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Football.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for football



English Language Learners Definition of football

: 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
: soccer


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

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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