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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Trailing 5-6 in the opening set of the fourth round, Djokovic lost his serve, removed a ball from his pocket and whacked it in frustration toward the back of the court, inadvertently hitting a line umpire in the throat. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Djokovic and Kenin Push Through to French Open Semifinals," 7 Oct. 2020 Third base umpire Manny Gonzalez called interference, and Goodrum's run was awarded. Noah Trister, Star Tribune, "Tigers back Boyd, rout Twins 8-2 in doubleheader opener," 29 Aug. 2020 After more than three decades of hard work as a big league umpire, Mike Winters is ready to loaf. Ben Walker, Star Tribune, "Call it a career: MLB ump Winters opted out in '20, now done," 9 Feb. 2021 And a human trafficking sting nabbed a Major League Baseball umpire. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "1 in 22 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19," 8 Dec. 2020 Like a home-plate umpire, the Chinese Communist Party is always right. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "Wall Street, Woke Capitalism, and China," 3 Dec. 2020 The second pitch of the at-bat appeared to be a low strike, but Luzardo didn’t get the call from home-plate umpire Adam Hamari, and Abreu belted a fastball down the middle out to left to put Chicago up 3-0. Susan Slusser,, "A’s drop Game 1 as Jesús Luzardo allows two homers; Chicago’s Lucas Giolito dominates," 29 Sep. 2020 Home-plate umpire Laz Diaz saw it differently and signaled strike as Votto prepared to toss his bat toward his dugout. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, "Luis Castillo tosses Cincinnati Reds' first complete game since 2017 to beat St. Louis Cardinals," 12 Sep. 2020 Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly, appealing an eight-game suspension for throwing at multiple Houston Astros players, struck home plate umpire Jim Reynolds in the left shoulder in the eighth. Beth Harris, Star Tribune, "Homer happy: Dodgers pummel Samardzija, Giants 7-2," 8 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Then Mookie Betts took a 1-0 slider just off the outer edge of the plate, according to umpire Lance Barrett. Evan Grant, Dallas News, "Dodgers are playing the ‘relentless’ baseball Chris Woodward wants to see from Rangers," 8 Oct. 2020 In a 2017 Davis Cup match in Ottawa, Denis Shapovalov, then 17, whacked a ball in anger that struck the chair umpire Arnaud Gabas in the eye and left his vision temporarily damaged. Ben Rothenberg, New York Times, "Why Was Novak Djokovic Disqualified From the U.S. Open?," 6 Sep. 2020 Absolutely, women should umpire in the big leagues, but baseball always has had a diversity problem, and that extends to its umpires. John Shea,, "Giants’ mailbag: Which player is primed to surprise everyone?," 10 July 2020 Davis, who has umpired more postseason games – 151 – than anyone in history, would become only the fourth to umpire 5,000 games overall. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "MLB umpires Joe West, Gerry Davis take opposing stances on COVID-shortened 2020 season," 9 July 2020 Two years after his life changed, Joyce was readying to umpire home plate in San Francisco. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Blown Detroit Tigers call still haunts Jim Joyce, but he has learned to forgive himself," 2 June 2020 His resume includes umpiring for the 2008 and 2018 World Series and two All-Star Games, according to MLB. Alicia Lee, CNN, "MLB makes history by naming its first black and Latino-born umpire crew chiefs," 27 Feb. 2020 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about umpire

Time Traveler for umpire

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for umpire

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Umpire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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 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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!