American English

Definition of football noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[uncountable] a game played by two teams of 11 players each, using an oval ball that players kick, throw, or carry. Teams try to put the ball over the other team's goal line to play football a football game/team/stadium
  2. 2[countable] a large oval ball made of leather or plastic and filled with air
  3. 3[uncountable] (outside the U.S.)= soccer
  4. 4[countable] (always used with an adjective) an issue or a problem that frequently causes argument and disagreement Health care should not become a political football.
  5. More Aboutfootball Football is played by two teams of 11 players wearing helmets and pads to protect themselves. Each football game is divided into four quarters, usually of 12 or 15 minutes each. Players try to get the ball into the other team's end zone, either by carrying it or passing (= throwing) it to other players on their team. If the player carries the ball, this is a run play or running play; if the ball is passed, this is called a pass play or passing play. The team that has the ball is called the offense and the other team is the defense. The offense has a series of four chances, called downs, to get the ball forward ten yards. When they move the ball forward at least ten yards, they receive a new set of four downs. The downs continue until the team loses the ball or fails to go forward ten yards in four downs. The defense tries to stop the offense from moving forward by intercepting the ball (= catching it when it is thrown to an opponent) or by causing a fumble (= when a player drops the ball). The most important player is the quarterback, who directs the team's offensive play and passes the ball or gives it to another player at the start of each play. If the ball is given to another player, this is called a handoff. Players try to score touchdowns by catching the ball in the other team's end zone or by carrying it into the end zone. A touchdown is worth six points. They can also score field goals by kicking the ball over the bar of the goal from anywhere on the field. A field goal is worth three points.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: football