Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


In his youth he had overtaxed his strength on the football field.

When I had finished, I was as hot and dirty as if it were half-time at a football match.

Also 'twas Willie who thought of the paper bein' in the football.

Why, Loosh, I thought you were an invalid; you look like a football player.

I like football immensely and dancing too, but there is something else in life.

It was his conviction that unselfishness was stimulated by football.

Don declares that he has all the earmarks of a football player.

It was football tactics, with me bucking the line, Bill carrying the ball.

Little boys are most interested in games with balls, like jai alai or football.

They show the true sport in their games of football and baseball.


open-air game, first recorded c.1400; see foot (n.) + ball (n.1). Forbidden in a Scottish statute of 1424. The first reference to the ball itself is late 15c. Figurative sense of "something idly kicked around" is first recorded 1530s. Ball-kicking games date back to the Roman legions, at least, but the sport seems to have risen to a national obsession in England, c.1630. Rules 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. The earliest recorded application of the word football to this is from 1881.