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

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 That’s because South Alabama was there to fan the flames of the Blazers’ awakening more than a decade ago when the Jaguars’ football program was founded. Evan Dudley, al, "'Bragging rights on the line’: Blazers host South Alabama on Saturday," 17 Sep. 2019 Just two months after arriving on campus, linebacker Nathan Fox has left the University of Houston football program. Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle, "Northwestern transfer Nathan Fox leaves UH's football program," 16 Sep. 2019 Brian Snyder, Arizona Republic In some ways, Arizona State's football season thus far is mirroring what the Sun Devils did last year in the early going. Michelle Gardner, azcentral, "ASU looks to ride momentum, freshmen into Pac-12 opener vs. Colorado," 16 Sep. 2019 Everyone loves a good comeback tale and here are four good ones from the 2019 football season: Half Moon Bay: A year after a 3-7 rebuilding season, the Cougars are back in the Metro rankings following a truly startling 40-0 win over previous No. Mitch Stephens,, "Four Bay Area high school football teams shrug off tough times, show resilience in 2019," 16 Sep. 2019 And that would be a shame, because the man who runs this team happens to be the best coach in the history of MSU’s football program. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Mark Dantonio blamed refs for Michigan State football's loss. He should blame himself," 15 Sep. 2019 In In an effort to keep University of Alabama students engaged during college football season, the school has come up with a way to record the location of students in an attempt to prevent them from leaving during the fourth quarter of home games. Fox News, "University of Alabama tracking students during college football games," 15 Sep. 2019 Also, play the long game by giving its student body a memorable in-stadium experience that glues a student to its football program for life. oregonlive, "Canzano: Oregon State football blowout victory was a $600,000 bargain," 14 Sep. 2019 For more than three years, Baribeau has been invited to travel from her home in Nashville, Tenn., for paid speaking engagements with college football programs. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Gophers football players take ‘mask off’ and open up about mental health," 13 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.

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


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

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).


not being in agreement or harmony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!