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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The Louisville football team picked up its third commitment in the last seven days. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville football picks up third 2020 commitment in seven days, fifth from Georgia," 5 June 2019 Before 2004, the local women's football team was FC Lyon. Martin Goillandeau, CNN, "Women's World Cup: France, the heartbeat of women's football," 5 June 2019 Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper also names his football team the most (his being the Broncos). Renae Reints, Fortune, "The Politics of Twitter: Who 2020 Candidates Tweet About Most," 5 June 2019 Fifth-year defensive tackle Adam McLean, who recently put his name in the NCAA transfer portal, is no longer a part of the Maryland football team, first-year coach Michael Locksley said Tuesday. Don Markus,, "Locksley: Adam McLean no longer part of Maryland football program," 4 June 2019 Ransom, who made The Arizona Republic's All-Arizona football team in 2018, is a four-star on 247Sport Composite with a No. 5 national ranking for the 2020 class at safety. Richard Obert, azcentral, "ASU, UA not among Salpointe S Lathan Ransom's final 5 colleges," 4 June 2019 The Las Vegas Bowl, Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix and Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina, will be new postseason destinations for conference football teams in the 2020 season. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Big Ten adds Las Vegas, Charlotte, Phoenix to football bowl destinations for 2020," 4 June 2019 The track team came along and won state, and the football team has been right there on the edge of winning it all. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Girls’ basketball: Manvel’s Bryan Harris named Barbers Hill HC/assistant AD," 4 June 2019 Biden had played on the University of Delaware's football team. Bo Erickson, CBS News, "When a young Joe Biden used his opponent's age against him," 4 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of football

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up football? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!