touch·​back | \ˈtəch-ˌbak \

Definition of touchback 

: a situation in football in which the ball is down behind the goal line after a kick or intercepted forward pass after which it is put in play by the team defending the goal on its own 20-yard line — compare safety

Examples of touchback in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In 2011, the NFL moved the spot of the kickoff forward from the 30-yard line to the 35, drastically increasing the number of kickoffs that cross into the end zone for touchbacks. Dan Gartland,, "Packers President Warns NFL Could Eliminate Kickoffs," 28 Mar. 2018 Punter Dane Roy led the league with 25 punts inside the 20-yard line with only five touchbacks in 58 attempts. Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle, "Houston names James Casey special teams coach," 31 Jan. 2018 It that’s also when the starting point on touchbacks was moved up from the 20-yard line to the 25. Matt Murschel,, "Coaches, football leaders grapple with ways to make kickoff returns safer for players," 27 May 2018 Reichard averaged 38 yards per punt last year while also going 1-for-1 on field goals, 17-for-17 on PATs and booming more than 40 kickoffs for touchbacks. Josh Bean,, "Birmingham recruiting roundup: UAB gets commits from Thompson, Homewood," 5 Feb. 2018 The 2009 fifth-round pick placed 26 punts inside the 20-yard line and only two touchbacks, meaning his placement accuracy was excellent. Larry Holder,, "Grading the 2017 New Orleans Saints: Specialists," 10 Feb. 2018 Carolina also was first in kickoff coverage, thanks in large part to Graham Gano’s touchbacks. Joseph Person, charlotteobserver, "Ex-Panthers linebacker promoted to special teams coordinator in latest coaching move," 18 Jan. 2018 In mid-April, the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved new rules for kickoffs that should increase the number of touchbacks. Aaron Reiss, kansascity, "Mizzou football's coaching staff has had 'a lot' of discussion about this rule change | The Kansas City Star," 9 May 2018 What’s bizarre is that the NFL has been trying to legislate the kickoff out of the league for years, tinkering with the distance of the kicks and the yardage of the touchback. Chris Chase, For The Win, "7 rules in sports that should be changed today," 3 May 2018

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

1884, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

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The first known use of touchback was in 1884

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English Language Learners Definition of touchback

American football : a situation in which the ball is put out of play behind the goal line after a kick or interception

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