um·pire | \ˈəm-ˌpī(-ə)r \

Definition of umpire 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an official in a sport who rules on plays

2 : one having authority to decide finally a controversy or question between parties: such as

a : one appointed to decide between arbitrators who have disagreed

b : an impartial third party chosen to arbitrate disputes arising under the terms of a labor agreement

3 : a military officer who evaluates maneuvers


umpired; umpiring

Definition of umpire (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to supervise or decide as umpire

intransitive verb

: to act as umpire

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History of Umpire

The word umpire was formed by metanalysis, or the changing of the division of words based upon how they sound together. The original word in English was noumpere, which was a borrowing of the French term nompere. The -pere of nompere was the French word for “equal,” a descendant of the Latin word par (“equal”) that is the root of words like peer, pair, and, of course, par. Noumpere became the form used in English for “one without equal” or “peerless,” but frequent references to a noumpere ended up becoming references to an oumpere, which became the modern word umpire. It’s ironic that the word for a person who literally calls balls and strikes is called by a name created by a linguistic foul.

Examples of umpire in a Sentence


usually acts as umpire in the all-too-frequent squabbles between the two other roommates


in our family disputes regarding the use of our home entertainment system are umpired by Dad

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After the chair umpire announces the score, a server will have 25 seconds to start the next point. Karen Crouse, New York Times, "Tennis Players Get Ready to Be Put on the Clock (Visibly)," 11 July 2018 Within a few seconds, Calamari was summed back to the plate when the umpire ruled Warren pitcher Bradley Vondruska had balked. Bob Narang, Lake County News-Sun, "Tasty Calamari: Derek Calamari strikes out six as Libertyville shuts down Warren in summer baseball regional," 11 July 2018 Dutch Rennert, a National League umpire from 1973-92 who was known for his animated, booming strike calls, died in St. Augustine, Fla., "Bucks guard Sterling Brown sues city of Milwaukee," 19 June 2018 With runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth inning, Hinch left the dugout after umpires ruled that Evan Gattis held up on Keone Kela’s 1-2 pitch. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Astros manager convinced the umpires to call a go-ahead balk in the 9th inning," 10 June 2018 This time, plate umpire Greg Charles ruled it a ball, perhaps an inch or two low, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Brett Friedlander,, "Stetson falls to North Carolina in opener of Chapel Hill Super Regional," 8 June 2018 But third-base umpire Ed Hickox ruled that Angels third baseman Kaleb Cowart had successfully tagged Moustakas out. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Alex Gordon's RBI hits not enough for Royals as Angels sweep series," 7 June 2018 The home plate umpire, James Hoye, ruled that Olson had just beaten Gardner’s throw, but the Yankees, believing that Olson had not escaped Sanchez’s tag, challenged the call. Wallace Matthews, New York Times, "Neil Walker Delivers a Yankees Win, but Give Brett Gardner the Save," 12 May 2018 Ron was a baseball enthusiast and loved being an umpire. Hartford Courant,, "Ronald P. and his wife Kimberly A. WILLHIDE," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

His team was holding on by a thread to a one-run lead over the Twins, trying and failing to produce with runners in scoring position, when two umpiring decisions stopped any ounce of momentum the Royals had built. Maria Torres, kansascity, "'I don't know what's going on': Yost frustrated with umpires in Royals' loss to Twins," 9 July 2018 While the team’s translator Eugene Koo joined Oh and Russell Martin to go over pitches, the umpiring crew convened on the meeting and told the translator to return to the dugout. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Blue Jays coach throws gloves in post-ejection tirade over umpires stopping a translator," 8 July 2018 The smallest of those fans were the most boisterous, as Reading youth lacrosse players rushed to hug junior Joe Bean, a midfielder and faceoff specialist who umpires their games. Craig Larson,, "The spring season got off to a soggy start, but had a brilliant finish," 28 June 2018 Plus, he’s been umpiring and training umpires in fast-pitch softball for the past 18 years. Kyle Stackpole, Howard County Times, "Howard County announces 2018 Community Sports Hall of Fame induction class," 7 July 2018 His father was a coal miner who often umpired local baseball games. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "Red Schoendienst, Hall of Fame baseball player and manager, dies at 95," 7 June 2018 Don also umpired for many baseball and softball leagues. Hartford Courant,, "Donald A. Comeau," 27 Apr. 2018 But to me, umpiring is an integral part of the game, obviously. Paul Sullivan,, "Hawk Harrelson and A.J. Pierzynski take their act to Sox Park," 5 Apr. 2018 And then the brain trust in New York overturned the call, which led to Gardenhire rushing the umpiring crew, kicking dirt onto the plate (a strong throwback move) and being ejected. Staff,, "Nine Innings: Blowing Up Small Sample Sizes, Heroic Homer Feats and Establishing an All-MLB Team," 2 Apr. 2018

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1609, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for umpire


Middle English oumpere, alteration (from misdivision of a noumpere) of noumpere, from Anglo-French nounpier, nompere, from nounpier, adjective, single, odd, from non- + per equal, from Latin par

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umpire assay



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Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for umpire

The first known use of umpire was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for umpire



English Language Learners Definition of umpire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who controls play and makes sure that players act according to the rules in a sports event (such as a baseball game or a cricket or tennis match)



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

: to be an umpire in a sports event (such as a baseball game)


um·pire | \ˈəm-ˌpīr \

Kids Definition of umpire

: an official in a sport (as baseball) who enforces the rules



Legal Definition of umpire 

: a person having authority to decide finally a controversy or question between parties: as

a : one appointed to decide between disagreeing arbitrators

b : an impartial third party chosen to arbitrate disputes arising under the terms of a labor agreement

c : one appointed to mediate between the appraisers of an insured and insurer in order to determine the amount of a loss

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