quar·​ter·​back | \ ˈkwȯ(r)-tər-ˌbak \

Definition of quarterback

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an offensive back in football who usually lines up behind the center, calls the signals, and directs the offensive play of the team
2 : one who directs and leads


quarterbacked; quarterbacking; quarterbacks

Definition of quarterback (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to direct the offensive play of quarterback a football team
2 : to give executive direction to : boss quarterbacked the original buying syndicateTime

intransitive verb

: to play quarterback

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Examples of quarterback in a Sentence


He quarterbacked his high school team. She quarterbacked the company's latest ad campaign.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Smith had been Seattle’s quarterbacks coach from 2011 to 2017 before moving into a role last season as associate head coach. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Seahawks assistant Carl Smith heading to new position with Houston Texans," 5 Feb. 2019 But the drama of national signing day is unlikely to exceed that of the day last month when quarterback Jalen Hurts penned an essay for the Players Tribune. Brian Costa, WSJ, "How Free Agency Came to College Football," 5 Feb. 2019 As football fans know, quarterbacks endure many sacks throughout the year. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Get All 'The Masked Singer' Spoilers You Could Ever Want," 10 Jan. 2019 On January 16, 21-year-old Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski took his own life after experiencing early symptoms of CTE. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "The Complete History of the Autopsy," 26 Dec. 2018 Naturally, the series will come down to quarterback play. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "No. 2 seed Brigade open Arena Football League semifinal series at Philadelphia," 13 July 2018 Some of the learning curve for quarterbacks has already been flattened. Brian Costa, WSJ, "Clemson, Notre Dame and the Year of the Quarterback Change," 28 Dec. 2018 The policy comes in wake of the protests that were started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "NFL adopts policy to fine teams if players and personnel don't stand for national anthem," 2 Oct. 2018 The ensemble comes exactly two weeks after Nike released its latest polarizing campaign starring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Lynsey Eidell, Glamour, "Black-ish Star Jennifer Lewis Wears Nike to the 2018 Emmys to Support Colin Kaepernick," 17 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Brillo, Class of ’99, was a four-year player at BC High, quarterbacking the Eagles his senior season. Nate Weitzer, BostonGlobe.com, "Jonathan Brillo named BC High football coach," 31 May 2018 The Patriots won’t back down lightly, even with concerns that quarterback Tom Brady is not 100 percent with a hand injury. George Diaz, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Tom Coughlin's tough love has Jaguars on brink of Super Bowl berth," 21 Jan. 2018 This will be their final airing: Q: Why can’t quarterback Sam Bradford use the phone? Stu Bykofsky, Philly.com, "High-flying Eagles have ruined these jokes | Stu Bykofsky," 30 Jan. 2018 For one thing, Saban's probably not going to tell either quarterback who the starter is before the week of the season-opener. Creg Stephenson, AL.com, "AL.com All-Access: Exploring possibilities in Alabama's quarterback dilemma," 20 Apr. 2018 Helfrich took the Ducks to the national title game in his second season, something that gets glossed over by critics who give the credit to quarterback Marcus Mariota. Ken Goe, OregonLive.com, "Ex-Oregon Ducks coach Mark Helfrich gets chance to prove critics wrong: Issues & Answers," 12 Jan. 2018 The first: Ageless Arizona pass-rusher John Abraham steams around Houston right tackle Derek Newton, taking the long way to quarterback Case Keenum. Peter King, SI.com, "Game 150: A Week in the Life of an Officiating Crew," 4 Dec. 2013 Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Rams-Chiefs Was a Crystal Ball Into the NFL’s Future," 20 Nov. 2018 There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance, genuine frustration and petulance and, lastly, passing ability versus quarterbacking ability. azcentral, "NFL power rankings after NFL draft: Not much hope for Arizona Cardinals in 2018 season?," 2 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'quarterback.' 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 quarterback


1879, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1892, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Statistics for quarterback

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for quarterback

The first known use of quarterback was in 1879

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English Language Learners Definition of quarterback

 (Entry 1 of 2)

American football : a player who leads a team's attempts to score usually by passing the ball to other players



English Language Learners Definition of quarterback (Entry 2 of 2)

American football : to play the position of quarterback for (a team)
: to lead or organize (something) by making important decisions


quar·​ter·​back | \ ˈkwȯr-tər-ˌbak \

Kids Definition of quarterback

: a football player who leads a team's attempts to score usually by passing the ball to other players

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