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

The scene sparked when both the linesperson and umpire couldn’t spot Pliskova’s ball mark in the clay with the deciding set tied at 5-5. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Tennis player smashes racket against umpire's chair in post-match tantrum," 16 May 2018 The play was reviewed by the umpires and the call was upheld. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Baylor coach hopes TCU's Jim Schlossnagle stays in the Big 12," 28 May 2018 Although a television replay showed his foot touched the base before Hughes applied the tag at second, the teams played without the replay option that is in affect for all Southeastern Conference games and the umpire's call on the field stood. Christopher Dabe,, "Tulane baseball squanders early lead as streak against LSU ends," 21 Mar. 2018 The chair umpire who climbed out of his seat to talk with Nick Kyrgios during a U.S. Open match has been suspended for two tournaments by the ATP. Howard Fendrich, The Seattle Times, "US Open umpire who spoke to Kyrgios gets 2-tournament ban," 18 Sep. 2018 Didn’t know umpires were allowed to give pep talks. Tom Perrotta, WSJ, "Umpire’s Pep Talk to Nick Kyrgios Stirs Controversy at the U.S. Open," 30 Aug. 2018 The call on the field wound up being overturned after the umpires were asked to conference. Andrew Turner,, "Local softball teams produced redemptive playoff performances," 27 May 2018 The Boones became the first three-generation baseball family when Bret made his big league debut and have since been joined by the Bells, Colemans, Hairstons and Schofield/Werth lines — plus the Runges, if umpires are included. Washington Post, "Jake hopes to become 4th generation of major league Boones," 16 Apr. 2018 Each umpire can be assigned games in various cities throughout a season. Christopher Dabe,, "Umpire with flight to catch does nothing wrong by leaving Tulane game early, league says," 16 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

While Arcia made a wild throw on the second after Machado clipped a knee with a hand, umpires called a double play following a video review. Ronald Blum, The Seattle Times, "Manny the Masher, Manny the Miscreant & Macho Manny," 23 Oct. 2018 For baseball wonks of a certain type, the robot umpire is the hyper-accurate, cold-blooded fantasy—a game unencumbered by umpiring mistakes of the human kind. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Will Baseball Surrender to the Robots?," 16 Aug. 2018 Ace news at Lacoste, which today named Louise Trotter as its new creative director, making the Brit the first woman to umpire the French sportswear institution in its 85-year history. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "Lacoste Appoints Louise Trotter as Creative Director," 4 Oct. 2018 Tennis can sort out the gender, fairness and umpiring issues Ms. Williams raised during her courtside negotiation session. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "Serena Williams’s Time Out," 12 Sep. 2018 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

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

19 Feb 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on umpire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with umpire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for umpire

Spanish Central: Translation of umpire

Nglish: Translation of umpire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of umpire for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about umpire

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to express emotion in a dramatic way

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