umpire

1 of 2

noun

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

umpire

2 of 2

verb

umpired; umpiring

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
The American tennis star asked to speak with the match supervisor, but the umpire refused. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 22 Feb. 2024 Ted Barrett, a big league umpire from 1994-2022, first encountered Pawol at an umpire camp in Binghamton, New York, in early 2015 and encouraged her to pursue the career. Ben Walker and Ronald Blum, USA TODAY, 12 Feb. 2024 The umpire called the Argylle actor out on strikes before launching into a pro wrestling elbow-drop move to emphasize Cena’s strikeout. Sean Neumann, Peoplemag, 12 Feb. 2024 More than 120 officials in black-and-white shirts are currently working as referees, umpires or judges in the NFL. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, 11 Feb. 2024 As is common in the winter leagues, the players’ and umpires’ uniforms were covered in advertising. Dominic Pino, National Review, 6 Feb. 2024 Beltré, Mauer and Helton will be inducted at Cooperstown on July 21 along with Jim Leyland, elected last month by the contemporary era committee for managers, executives and umpires. Ronald Blum, The Mercury News, 23 Jan. 2024 The 2020 all-Black officiating crew included Barry Anderson as the umpire, Anthony Jeffries as the side judge, Carl Johnson as the line judge, Julian Mapp as the down judge, Dale Shaw as the field judge, and Greg Steed as the back judge. Shelby Stewart, Essence, 15 Dec. 2023 Both umpire candidates boast resumes that appear deserving of joining the 10 arbiters already enshrined in Cooperstown. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 23 Oct. 2023
Verb
But Molitor, now 67, was well aware of what Winfield was doing, and Steve Winfield, who umpired and also refereed basketball games in St. Paul, kept his brother apprised on the kid who eventually became the city’s second hall of famer. Betsy Helfand, Twin Cities, 24 Jan. 2024 But the explanations did not persuade the umpiring crew. Scott Miller, New York Times, 19 Apr. 2023 Leading off will be the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee for Managers, Executives and Umpires, which will vote Dec. 3 on a ballot that includes managers Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella and Jim Leyland, umpires Joe West and Ed Montague, and executives Hank Peters and Bill White. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 23 Oct. 2023 To honor the occasion, Roberts and Correa greeted each other at home plate for the pregame lineup exchange and posed with the umpiring crew for a picture. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2023 The Orioles led 4-2 to begin the fifth Sunday, but a questionable call by the umpiring crew sparked a game-tying rally by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jacob Calvin Meyer, Baltimore Sun, 3 Sep. 2023 At the French Open and other clay court tournaments, the ball leaves a mark that umpires often inspect. Matthew Futterman, New York Times, 10 July 2023 However, the umpiring crew reassessed the verdict of first base umpire Clint Vondrak, determining that the ball had been foul. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, 5 Apr. 2023 Moore came home and began umpiring high school games in the South Bay in 2011. Mike Digiovanna, Los Angeles Times, 24 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'umpire.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

1609, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near umpire

Cite this Entry

“Umpire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/umpire. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

umpire

noun
um·​pire
ˈəm-ˌpī(ə)r
1
: one having authority to decide an argument or a question
2
: an official in a sport (as baseball) who rules on plays
umpire verb
Etymology

Noun

Middle English oumpere, an altered form of noumpere "one having authority to decide an issue or dispute," from early French nounpier, nompere (adjective) "single, odd, without equal," from non-, nom- "not" and per "equal," from Latin par "equal" — related to compare, pair, par, peer

Word Origin
From the Latin word par, meaning "equal," came the early French word per, which also meant "equal." Per was combined with the prefix non-, nom-, meaning "not," to form the early French word nomper, which meant "without equal." Nomper came into Middle English as a noun, noumpere. The meaning of noumpere was "a person who is not equal, a person who has authority over others." Many people who heard the words a noumpere thought they were actually hearing an oumpere. Because of that misunderstanding, the letter n in time came to be dropped from noumpere. Other changes over the course of many years have given us the modern word umpire.

Legal Definition

umpire

noun
um·​pire
: 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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