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Online Etymology Dictionary

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football (n.)
open-air game involving kicking a ball, c. 1400; in reference to the inflated ball used in the game, mid-14c. ("Þe heued fro þe body went, Als it were a foteballe," Octavian I manuscript, c. 1350), from foot (n.) + ball (n.1). Forbidden in a Scottish statute of 1424. One of Shakespeare's insults is "you base foot-ball player" [Lear I.iv]. Ball-kicking games date back to the Roman legions, at least, but the sport seems first to have risen to a national obsession in England, c. 1630. Figurative sense of "something idly kicked around, something subject to hard use and many vicissitudes" is by 1530s.

Rules of the game first regularized at Cambridge, 1848; soccer (q.v.) split off in 1863. The U.S. style (known to some in England as "stop-start rugby with padding") evolved gradually 19c.; the first true collegiate game is considered to have been played Nov. 6, 1869, between Princeton and Rutgers, at Rutgers, but the rules there were more like soccer. A rematch at Princeton Nov. 13, with the home team's rules, was true U.S. football. Both were described as foot-ball at Princeton.
Then twenty-five of the best players in college were sent up to Brunswick to combat with the Rutgers boys. Their peculiar way of playing this game proved to Princeton an insurmountable difficulty; .... Two weeks later Rutgers sent down the same twenty-five, and on the Princeton grounds, November 13th, Nassau played her game; the result was joyous, and entirely obliterated the stigma of the previous defeat. ["Typical Forms of '71" by the Princeton University Class of '72, 1869]
foosball (n.)
debuted in U.S. 1963 and was a craze on some college campuses for a few years thereafter. Said to have been designed c. 1930s in Switzerland. The name is presumably from the pronunciation of Fußball, the German form of (Association) football.
footer (n.)
c. 1600, "a pedestrian;" 1781, "a kick at football;" 1863, British student slang, "the game of football;" see foot (n.), football, -er.
FIFA
1915, acronym from Fédération Internationale de Football Association, founded 1904 in Paris.
soccer (n.)
1889, socca, later socker (1891), soccer (1895), originally university slang (with jocular formation -er (3)), from a shortened form of Assoc., abbreviation of association in Football Association (as opposed to Rugby football); compare rugger. An unusual method of formation, but those who did it perhaps shied away from making a name out of the first three letters of Assoc. Compare 1890s English schoolboy slang leccer, from lecture (n.).
touch (v.)
late 13c., "make deliberate physical contact with," from Old French tochier "to touch, hit, knock; mention, deal with" (11c., Modern French toucher), from Vulgar Latin *toccare "to knock, strike" as a bell (source also of Spanish tocar, Italian toccare), perhaps of imitative origin. Related: Touched; touching.

From c. 1300 in transitive sense "bring into physical contact," also "pertain to." Other senses attested from 14c. are "perceive by physical contact, examine by sense of touch," also "be or come into physical contact with; come to rest on; border on, be contiguous with;" also "use the sense of touch," and "mention, describe." From early 14c. as "affect or move mentally or emotionally," with notion of to "touch" the heart or mind. Also from early 14c. as "have sexual contact with." Meaning "to get or borrow money" first recorded 1760. Touch-and-go (adj.) is recorded from 1812, apparently from the name of a tag-like game, first recorded 1650s. Touch football is first attested 1933. Touch-me-not (1590s) translates Latin noli-me-tangere.
pool (n.2)
game similar to billiards, 1848, originally (1690s) a card game played for collective stakes (a "pool"), from French poule "stakes, booty, plunder," literally "hen," from Old French poille "hen, young fowl" (see foal (n.)).

Perhaps the original notion is from jeu de la poule, supposedly a game in which people threw things at a chicken and the player who hit it, won it, which speaks volumes about life in the Middle Ages. The notion behind the word, then, is "playing for money." The connection of "hen" and "stakes" is also present in Spanish polla and Walloon paie.

Meaning "collective stakes" in betting first recorded 1869; sense of "common reservoir of resources" is from 1917. Meaning "group of persons who share duties or skills" is from 1928. From 1933 as short for football pool in wagering. Pool shark is from 1898. The phrase dirty pool "underhanded or unsportsmanlike conduct," especially in politics (1951), seems to belong here now, but the phrase dirty pool of politics, with an image of pool (n.1) is recorded from 1871 and was in use early 20c.
punter (n.)
1888 in football, agent noun from punt (v.).
offside
also off-side, 1867, in various sporting senses, originally in English football; from off + side (n.).
incompletion (n.)
1780, "incomplete condition," noun of state from incomplete. In reference to football passes, by 1926.
blocker (n.)
c. 1400 of a tool, c. 1600 of a person, agent noun from block (v.). U.S. football sense from 1914.
blocking (n.)
1630s, verbal noun from present participle of block (v.). By 1891 in U.S. football; by 1961 in theater.
pigskin (n.)
"saddle leather," 1855, from pig (n.) + skin (n.). As slang for "football" from 1894.
carry (n.)
c. 1600, "vehicle for carrying," from carry (v.). U.S. football sense attested by 1949.
sweeper (n.)
1520s, agent noun from sweep (v.). As a position in soccer (association football) by 1964.
field-goal (n.)
1889 in football, from field (n.) + goal (n.). A score made from the playing field.
lineman (n.)
1858, worker on telegraph (later telephone) lines, from line (n.) + man (n.). U.S. football sense is from 1894.
blitz (n.)
"sudden overwhelming attack," 1940, shortening of blitzkrieg (1939). The use in U.S. football is from 1959. As a verb, 1940, from the noun. Related: Blitzed; blitzing.
scrimmage (n.)
sometimes also scrummage, late 15c., alteration of skirmish (n.). Meaning in rugby and U.S. football dates from 1857, originally "a confused struggle between players."
half-time (n.)
also halftime, half time, indicating "half of the time," 1640s, from half + time (n.). Tempo sense is by 1880. In football, from 1867.
rollout (n.)
also roll-out, 1957, originally of airplanes, from verbal phrase, from roll (v.) + out (adv.). As a type of U.S. football play from 1959.
forward (n.)
Old English foreweard, "the fore or front part" of something, "outpost; scout;" see forward (adv.). The position in football so called since 1879.
playbook (n.)
also play-book, 1530s, "book of stage plays," from play (n.) + book (n.). Meaning "Book of football plays" recorded from 1965.
quarterback (n.)
in U.S. football, 1876, from quarter (n.) + back (n.); so called from his position on the field at the start of play, between the halfback and the center. As a verb from 1945. Figurative sense from 1952. Monday morning quarterback is 1932 (n.), 1972 (v.); originally pro football player slang for sportswriters (U.S. professional football games typically are played on Sundays).
blind side (n.)
"unguarded aspect," c. 1600; see blind (adj.). As a verb, also blind-side, blindside, "to hit from the blind side," first attested 1968, American English, in reference to U.S. football tackles.
kick-off (n.)
also kickoff, kick off, 1857, "first kick in a football match," from kick (v.) + off (adv.). The verbal phrase also is from 1857. Figurative sense of "start, beginning event" is from 1875.
right wing (n.)
1570s of armies; from 1882 in football; 1905 in the political sense (compare left wing). Right-winger attested by 1919 in U.S. politics, 1895 in sports.
spiral (n.)
1650s, from spiral (adj.). U.S. football sense is from 1896. Figurative sense of "progressive movement in one direction" is by 1897. Of books, spiral-bound (adj.) is from 1937.
down (v.)
1560s, from down (adv.). Meaning "swallow hastily" is by 1860; football sense of "bring down (an opposing player) by tackling" is attested by 1887. Related: Downed; downing.
sack (v.4)
type of U.S. football play, 1969, from sack (v.1) in the sense of "to plunder" or sack (v.2) on the notion of "put in a bag." As a noun from 1972.
punt (v.)
"to kick a ball dropped from the hands before it hits the ground," 1845, first in a Rugby list of football rules, perhaps from dialectal punt "to push, strike," alteration of Midlands dialect bunt "to push, butt with the head," of unknown origin, perhaps echoic. Student slang meaning "give up, drop a course so as not to fail," 1970s, is because a U.S. football team punts when it cannot advance the ball. Related: Punted; punting.
wingman (n.)
pilot of the plane beside the lead aircraft in a formation, 1943 (earlier as a football position), from wing (n.) + man (n.). With figurative extensions, including the dating-sidekick one that was in use by 2006.
clothes-line (n.)
also clothesline, 1830, from clothes + line (n.). As a kind of high tackle in U.S. football (the effect is similar to running into a taut clothesline) attested by 1970; as a verb in this sense by 1959.
holding (n.)
early 13c., "act of holding;" mid-15c. as "that which is held," verbal noun of hold (v.). Old English healding meant "keeping, observance." As a football (soccer) penalty, from 1866. Meaning "property held," especially stock shares, is from 1570s. Holding operation is from 1942.
receiver (n.)
mid-14c. (mid-13c. as a surname), agent noun from receive, or from Old French recevere (Modern French receveur), agent noun from recievere. As a telephone apparatus, from 1877; in reference to a radio unit, from 1891; in U.S. football sense, from 1897.
rush (n.2)
"a hasty driving forward," late 14c., from rush (v.). Sense of "mass migration of people" (especially to a gold field) is from 1848, American English. Football/rugby sense from 1857. Meaning "surge of pleasure" is from 1960s. Rush hour first recorded 1888. Rush order from 1896.
block (v.)
"obstruct," 1590s, from French bloquer "to block, stop up," from Old French bloc (see block (n.)). Meaning "to make smooth or to give shape on a block" is from 1620s. Stage and theater sense is from 1961. Sense in cricket is from 1772; in U.S. football from 1889. Related: Blocked; blocking.
catch-up (n.)
"a working to overtake a leading rival," by 1971, probably a figurative use from U.S. football in reference to being behind in the score. From verbal phrase catch up, which was used from early 14c. in sense "raise aloft" and from 1855 in sense "overtake;" see catch (v.) + up (adv.).
daylight (n.)
c. 1300 (as two words from mid-12c., daies liht), from day + light (n.); its figurative sense of "clearly visible open space between two things" (1820) has been used in references to boats in a race, U.S. football running backs avoiding opposing tackles, a rider and a saddle, and the rim of a glass and the surface of the liquor. The (living) daylights that you beat out of someone were originally slang for "the eyes" (1752), extended figuratively to the vital senses.
option (n.)
c. 1600, "action of choosing," from French option (Old French opcion), from Latin optionem (nominative optio) "choice, free choice, liberty to choose," from root of optare "to desire, choose," from PIE root *op- (2) "to choose, prefer." Meaning "thing that may be chosen" is attested from 1885. Commercial transaction sense first recorded 1755 (the verb in this sense is from 1934). As a North American football play, it is recorded from 1954.
gridiron (n.)
cooking utensil for broiling over a fire, early 14c., griderne, alteration (by association with iron) of gridire (late 13c.), a variant of gridil (see griddle). Confusion of "l" and "r" was common in Norman dialect. Also a medieval instrument of torture by fire. As the word for a U.S. football field, by 1896, for its lines.
fumble (v.)
mid-15c., "handle clumsily," possibly from Old Norse falma "to fumble, grope." Similar words in Scandinavian and North Sea Germanic (Swedish fumla; Dutch fommelen) suggest onomatopoeia from a sound felt to indicate clumsiness (compare bumble, stumble, and obsolete English famble, fimble of roughly the same meaning). Intransitive sense "do or seek awkwardly" is from 1530s. Sense in football is from 1889. Related: Fumbled; fumbling.
huddle (v.)
1570s, "to heap or crowd together," probably from Low German hudern "to cover, to shelter" (of hens on chicks or nurses with children), from Middle Low German huden "to cover up," which is probably a frequentative form from Proto-Germanic *hud-, from PIE *keudh-, extended form of the root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (see hide (v.)). Compare also Middle English hoderen "heap together, huddle" (c. 1300). Related: Huddled; huddling. The noun is from 1580s. U.S. football sense is from 1928.
arsenal (n.)
c. 1500, "dockyard, dock with naval stores," from Italian arzenale, from Arabic dar as-sina'ah "workshop," literally "house of manufacture," from dar "house" + sina'ah "art, craft, skill," from sana'a "he made."

Applied by the Venetians to a large wharf in their city, which was the earliest reference of the English word. Sense of "public place for making or storing weapons and ammunition" is from 1570s. The London football club (1886) was named for the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, where the original players worked.
cover (v.)
mid-12c., from Old French covrir (12c., Modern French couvrir) "to cover, protect, conceal, dissemble," from Late Latin coperire, from Latin cooperire "to cover over, overwhelm, bury," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + operire "to close, cover" (see weir). Related: Covered; covering. Military sense is from 1680s; newspaper sense first recorded 1893; use in football dates from 1907. Betting sense is 1857. Of horses, as a euphemism for "copulate" it dates from 1530s. Covered wagon attested from 1745.
snap (v.)
1520s, of animals, "to make a quick bite," from snap (n.). Meaning "to break suddenly or sharply" is first recorded c. 1600; the mental sense is from 1970s. Meaning "come into place with a snap" is from 1793. Meaning "take a photograph" is from 1890. U.S. football sense first recorded 1887. Related: Snapped; snapping. To snap the fingers is from 1670s. Phrase snap out of it recorded by 1907. Snapping turtle is attested from 1784. Snap-brim (adj.) in reference to a type of hat is from 1928.
sideline (n.)
also side-line, "line on the side of a fish," 1768; "lines marking the limits of playing area" (on a football field, etc.), 1862, from side (adj.) + line (q.v.). Meaning "course of business aside from one's regular occupation" is from 1890. Railway sense is from 1890. The figurative sense of "position removed from active participation" is attested from 1934 (from the railway sense or from sports, because players who are not in the game stand along the sidelines). The verb meaning "put out of play" is from 1945. Related: Sidelined; sidelining.
interception (n.)
early 15c., "action of intercepting" (the flow of a bodily fluid), from Latin interceptionem (nominative interceptio) "a seizing, taking away," noun of action from past participle stem of intercipere (see intercept (v.)). Specific football/rugby sense is attested by 1897. Meaning "action of closing in on and destroying an enemy aircraft, etc." is recorded from 1939.
interference (n.)
1783, "intermeddling," from interfere on model of difference, etc. In physics, in reference to the mutual action of waves on each other, from 1802, coined in this sense by English scientist Dr. Thomas Young (1773-1829). Telephoning (later broadcasting) sense is from 1887. In chess from 1913; in U.S. football from 1894.
clipping (n.1)
early 13c., "clasping, embracing," verbal noun from clip (v.2). As a U.S. football penalty (not in OED), from 1920.
Clipping or Cutting Down from Behind. -- This is to be ruled under unnecessary roughness, and penalized when it is practiced upon "a man obviously out of the play." This "clipping" is a tendency in the game that the committee is watching anxiously and with some fear. ["Colliers," April 10, 1920]