quar·​ter·​back | \ ˈkwȯ(r)-tər-ˌbak How to pronounce quarterback (audio) \

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

The preseason opener comes days after Nike reignited the controversy by revealing that former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the face of a new ad. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "NFL regular season opener sees no kneeling during national anthem," 7 Sep. 2018 Lincoln junior quarterback Chris Davila was outstanding, as was WR-FS Donald Chapman against Torrey Pines. John Maffei, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Talent and heart show in summer league passing tournaments," 12 July 2018 The Packers backup quarterback is on a quest to visit all Seven Wonders of the World. Jenny Vrentas, SI.com, "For Many NFL Players, Summer Doesn't Bring Much of a Break," 9 July 2018 Maybe a new quarterback is what Josh Doctson needs to jump-start what has been a slow start to his NFL career with the Washington Redskins. Drew Davison, star-telegram, "Former TCU WR Josh Doctson expects to do 'huge things' in Year 3 with Redskins," 7 July 2018 Identifying a quarterback is imperative if the team hopes to put together another winning season. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Army on verge of third straight winning season, Black Knights No. 55 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 2 July 2018 Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is upbeat after throwing footballs on June 12, 2018. Indianapolis Star, "Andrew Luck is throwing. Oddsmakers and analysts aren't buying it.," 28 June 2018 No player is perfect, and no quarterback is perfect. Steven Ruiz, For The Win, "Every NFL starting quarterback's biggest weakness," 27 June 2018 Tampa Bay’s backup quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Zach Berman, Philly.com, "Eagles make a change to training camp schedule | Early Birds," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The receiving corps is considered the deepest unit on the team, and the offensive line is ahead of schedule, said Leach, who is both the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. Scott Hanson, The Seattle Times, "Washington State is filled with new faces, but one big one remains at the middle: Mike Leach," 27 Aug. 2018 His biggest contribution, though, was his fourth-down touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles in the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory, a play famously known as Philly Special. Rich Campbell, chicagotribune.com, "Tight end Trey Burton and Bears agree to deal," 13 Mar. 2018 They are still quarterbacked by a guy named Tom Brady, but that guy is now 40 years old. David Murphy, Philly.com, "A doubter's mea culpa: Dear Eagles, we were wrong | David Murphy," 23 Jan. 2018 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

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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Last Updated

24 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 How to pronounce quarterback (audio) \

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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