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pick·​off ˈpik-ˌȯf How to pronounce pickoff (audio)
: a baseball play in which a base runner is picked off

pick off

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picked off; picking off; picks off

transitive verb

: to shoot or bring down especially one by one
: to put out (a base runner who is off base) with a quick throw (as from the pitcher or catcher)
: intercept
picked off a pass

Examples of pickoff in a Sentence

Noun He made a pickoff throw to third base. Verb picked off more passes than any other player in the division
Recent Examples on the Web
Two more miscues followed in the third with first baseman Ryan Noda throwing the ball away on an infield hit by Valdez and starter Joe Boyle making a wild throw on a pickoff attempt at second base. Josh Dubow, The Mercury News, 2 Apr. 2024 Takamura scored on an errant pickoff throw at first base and Madonna came home on a sacrifice fly to right hit by Truman Beaudoin. Glenn Reeves, The Mercury News, 20 Mar. 2024 The first pickoff, by Jaire Alexander, came when Dallas was backed on its own end of the field late in the first quarter. USA TODAY, 14 Jan. 2024 Khan drafted Porter, who maintained perfect position on Odell Beckham Jr.’s fade route, enabling the pickoff. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Oct. 2023 On average this season, there has been a successful pickoff once every 10 games, on par with recent years. Francesca Paris, New York Times, 24 May 2023 Such as the pitch timer, the curtailment of radical defensive shifts and the introduction of larger bases, coupled with limitations on how many times a pitcher could attempt a pickoff. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Jan. 2024 Less heralded — and criticized — were the other changes implemented to encourage more action: Infield shift restrictions, bigger bases and a limit on pickoff attempts. Jorge Castillo, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2023 If a third pickoff throw is attempted and is unsuccessful, the pitcher is charged with a balk. Chantz Martin, Fox News, 1 Sep. 2023
Bobby Peirce doubled against Frank, went to third on a single by Chris Stanfield and scored on an error by Rowland, whose throw trying to pick off Peirce during on a steal by Stanfield went into the outfield. Bob Holt, arkansasonline.com, 23 Mar. 2024 Beijing has pushed countries to recognize China, not Taiwan, as a way to bolster its claims and, by picking off its allies, China isolates Taiwan on the international stage. Vic Chiang, Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2024 But immediately after reaching base in the fifth inning, Lee was picked off first by Padres starter Yu Darvish for the third out. Evan Webeck, The Mercury News, 28 Mar. 2024 After White led off with a double he was picked off second base. Tom Murphy, arkansasonline.com, 19 Feb. 2024 Two plays later, Mahomes was picked off, which was his first interception thrown in the past two postseasons. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, 11 Feb. 2024 The Chiefs, up 17-7, have the ball back with another chance to go up three scores. 25d ago / 1:56 PM PST Jason Abbruzzese Jackson really should have been picked off there. NBC News, 29 Jan. 2024 In Martin Scorsese's film, Gladstone plays Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman whose family was being picked off one by one by white people who moved to Oklahoma to take advantage of the newfound oil riches. Ew Staff Published, EW.com, 8 Mar. 2024 When key trading powers in the world economy such as the U.S. start picking off bilateral FTAs with countries as important as Kenya, that only serves to deflate the balloon for the AfCFTA—which is the single most important economic policy investment objective that the US should champion for Africa. Harry G. Broadman, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pickoff.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1911, in the meaning defined above


1810, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pickoff was in 1810

Dictionary Entries Near pickoff

Cite this Entry

“Pickoff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pickoff. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

pick off

: to shoot or bring down one by one or with a single shot
: to put out (a base runner who is off base) with a quick throw
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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