um·​pire | \ ˈəm-ˌpī(-ə)r How to pronounce umpire (audio) \

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

Noun usually acts as umpire in the all-too-frequent squabbles between the two other roommates Verb in our family disputes regarding the use of our home entertainment system are umpired by Dad
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But umpires ruled that Washington's Trea Turner interfered with a play at first base by running inside the line and obstructing the throw. NBC News, "Another road win! Washington Nationals, Houston Astros headed to final game of World Series," 30 Oct. 2019 Oddly, the play was called a strike, as umpires ruled Culberson didn't pull back his bat. Eric Levenson, CNN, "Braves player Charlie Culberson was hit in the face with a 90 mph fastball," 15 Sep. 2019 Worth noting: The umpires probably would have called the infield-fly rule if Stewart’s popup hadn’t appeared headed for foul territory. Ron Kroichick,, "A’s roll to victory, but Laureano leaves with cramp in troublesome leg," 7 Sep. 2019 The last time a protest was upheld was in 2014, when the San Francisco Giants protested that umpires called a game due to rain too soon. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Boston Red Sox protest loss to Tampa Bay Rays due to lineup card questions," 24 July 2019 The umpire called Chapman out — the big board suggested otherwise — and the replay center in New York City hadn’t seen enough to flip the call. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "Takeaways: A’s 3, White Sox 2," 14 July 2019 Once the fourth inning ended, the umpires called the game for a delay. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Despite rain delay, Louisville baseball downs Auburn to keep season alive," 19 June 2019 Ohtani’s hand swept over the back of the plate just before Martin’s foot landed, with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi calling him safe. Maria Torres,, "Angels capitalize on Dodgers’ shaky bullpen and slide to victory," 11 June 2019 Parents hang onto every pitch as if the umpire’s call will determine life or death., "Healthy attitudes in youth sports," 25 June 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Between innings, Martinez approached the umpiring crew to continue arguing his point. Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times, "Nationals Overcome Astros in Game 6 to Extend World Series," 29 Oct. 2019 After all, Martinez had been instructed to stop consuming caffeine — blowing up on the umpiring crew like that was probably more strenuous on the heart than some coffee. Nick Schwartz, For The Win, "Dave Martinez was checked by a doctor after his animated World Series tirade," 30 Oct. 2019 Boone was ejected by West, umpiring at third base, for arguing balls and strikes during a 7-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Joe West ejects Yankees’ Boone amid clash with rookie ump," 21 Sep. 2019 Cooper umpired in 10 division series, four League Championship Series and the 2005 All-Star Game, along with two World Baseball Classics. NBC News, "MLB umpire Eric Cooper dies at 52; did playoffs 2 weeks ago," 21 Oct. 2019 As for Montgomery, well, his mind was drifting to the bigger picture after the game about the future of umpiring altogether. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Cruz hits 2 of 4 homers by Twins in 8-5 win over Royals," 19 Sep. 2019 On May 18, Salisbury split a doubleheader with Statesville in which players umpired the first game because nobody scheduled the umps. Tom Verducci,, "The Hard, Historic Roads That Lead to Baseball's Magic Number: .400," 8 Aug. 2019 Dine has umpired Little League games for 10 years and was the first female to officiate in the Midwest Prospect League, a wood-bat summer league for college baseball players hoping to demonstrate their abilities for Major League scouts. Mike Peticca,, "Hudson woman among umpires for Little League World Series," 30 July 2019 It was made worse by the umpiring crew reversing a third-out call in the outfield and bringing him back from the dugout in the second inning. Jon Meoli,, "Inside the between-starts routine of Orioles prospect Drew Rom as he looks to learn from rare adversity," 28 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for umpire

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

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Statistics for umpire

Last Updated

8 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Umpire.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for umpire


How to pronounce umpire (audio)

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 How to pronounce umpire (audio) \

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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Comments on umpire

What made you want to look up umpire? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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