27 Idioms for Football + Quiz


These expressions, often borrowed from the game, convey deeper meanings beyond the field.

In this article, we’ll explore football idioms that anyone can understand, making the game’s language accessible to all.

idioms for football

What is an Idiom for Football?

Idioms are phrases that don’t mean exactly what their words say. They’re like secret codes within the language, known by football enthusiasts and players.

Let’s dive into the meanings of some common football idioms and see how they’re used in sentences.


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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1 / 20

What is a simile?

2 / 20

Identify the simile in the following sentence: “She swims like a fish.”

3 / 20

What is a metaphor?

4 / 20

Which of the following is a metaphor?

5 / 20

What is an idiom?

6 / 20

What does the idiom “break the ice” mean?

7 / 20

What is an adjective?

8 / 20

Choose the adjective in the following sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

9 / 20

What is an abbreviation?

10 / 20

What does the abbreviation “e.g.” stand for?

11 / 20

What is a verb?

12 / 20

Identify the verb in the following sentence: “The cat sleeps on the sofa.”

13 / 20

“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

14 / 20

Which of the following is an adjective?

15 / 20

The abbreviation “NASA” stands for:

16 / 20

Choose the metaphor in the following sentence: “Time is a thief.”

17 / 20

What does the idiom “hit the books” mean?

18 / 20

Which of the following sentences contains a simile?

19 / 20

“LOL” is an abbreviation for:

20 / 20

Identify the verb in this sentence: “They whispered secrets into the night.”

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IdiomMeaningExample Sentence
Hail Mary PassA desperate, long pass often attempted at the end of a game.The quarterback threw a Hail Mary pass in the hope of a miracle catch.
Throw in the TowelTo give up or quit, especially when facing overwhelming odds.After a series of setbacks, the team refused to throw in the towel.
Drop the BallTo make a mistake or fail to do something important.Sarah dropped the ball when she missed an easy pass.
Kick the BucketA humorous way to say someone has passed away.Grandpa always joked that he wouldn’t kick the bucket anytime soon.
Move the GoalpostsChanging the rules or expectations to make something harder to achieve.The teacher kept moving the goalposts for the project, making it challenging.
Play HardballTo be tough and uncompromising, especially in negotiations.The company decided to play hardball during the contract negotiations.
Take One for the TeamSacrificing personal interests for the benefit of the group or team.Sarah was willing to take one for the team by working late to finish the project.
Touchdown DanceA celebratory dance after achieving a significant goal.The striker performed a touchdown dance after scoring the winning goal.
Go for BrokeTo risk everything for a big gain or success.In the final moments, the coach decided to go for broke, sending all players forward.
Behind the Eight BallIn a difficult or disadvantageous position.Losing their star player put the team behind the eight ball for the season.
Change of PossessionWhen one team loses the ball to the other team, often through a turnover.The change of possession gave the opposing team a chance to score.
Play by EarMaking decisions based on the situation, without a fixed plan.The coach decided to play by ear and adjust tactics during the game.
Punt on the IssueAvoiding making a decision or taking a stance on a matter.He decided to punt on the issue and remain neutral in the argument.
End RunA strategy where a player avoids the most direct path to gain an advantage.The wide receiver executed an end run to reach the end zone.
Pass the BuckTo transfer responsibility or blame to someone else.Instead of owning up to the mistake, he tried to pass the buck.
Face OffA confrontation or contest between two individuals or teams.The face-off between rivals was intense, with both teams determined to win.
Out of BoundsBeyond the designated playing area; not within acceptable limits.The ball was declared out of bounds, giving possession to the opposing team.
Run InterferenceTo obstruct or disrupt the progress of an opponent, often to help a teammate.The offensive lineman ran interference, blocking defenders to aid the quarterback.
Sack the QuarterbackTo tackle the opposing team’s quarterback behind the line of scrimmage.The defense managed to sack the quarterback multiple times during the game.
Two-Minute WarningA notification given with two minutes left in a half or game.The coach called a timeout after the two-minute warning in the tied game.
Play for KeepsTo compete with seriousness and determination, often with a focus on winning.Both teams were playing for keeps in the championship match.
Game PlanA strategy or plan developed to achieve success in a game or competition.The coach outlined the team’s game plan for the upcoming match.
Offside TrapA defensive tactic positioning players to catch opponents offside.The team executed the offside trap perfectly, frustrating the opponent’s advances.
Run the ClockTo control the pace of the game by using up as much time as possible.The team decided to run the clock down to secure their lead.
Call an AudibleTo change a planned play at the last moment based on the situation.The quarterback decided to call an audible to exploit the defense’s weakness.
BenchwarmerA player who rarely participates and spends most of the time on the bench.He often found himself as a benchwarmer, waiting for his chance to play.
Fumble the SnapTo mishandle the exchange of the ball between the center and quarterback.The quarterback’s failure to catch the snap resulted in a turnover.

Metaphors can describe football in various ways, like comparing it to a battlefield where teams clash in strategic warfare. To explore more metaphors for football, you can visit this link: Metaphors for Football. Similarly, similes offer comparisons that make football more relatable, such as saying it’s as intense as a pressure cooker ready to explode. Discover additional similes for football here: Similes for Football.

Idioms for Football

1. Hail Mary Pass

Meaning: A desperate, long pass made in the hope of scoring, often at the end of a game.

In a Sentence: With only seconds left, the quarterback threw a Hail Mary pass, hoping for a miracle catch in the end zone.

2. Throw in the Towel

Meaning: To give up or quit, often used when someone faces overwhelming odds.

In a Sentence: After a series of setbacks, the team didn’t want to throw in the towel; they continued to fight.

3. Drop the Ball

Meaning: To make a mistake or fail to do something important.

In a Sentence: Sarah dropped the ball when she missed the easy pass, costing her team a scoring opportunity.

4. Kick the Bucket

Meaning: A humorous way to say someone has passed away.

In a Sentence: Despite his age, Grandpa always joked that he wouldn’t kick the bucket anytime soon.

5. Move the Goalposts

Meaning: Changing the rules or expectations to make something harder to achieve.

In a Sentence: The teacher kept moving the goalposts for the project, making it challenging for the students to meet the requirements.

6. Play Hardball

Meaning: To be tough and uncompromising, especially in negotiations or dealings.

In a Sentence: The company decided to play hardball during the contract negotiations, demanding better terms.

7. Take One for the Team

Meaning: Sacrificing personal interests for the benefit of the group or team.

In a Sentence: Sarah agreed to work late to finish the project, willing to take one for the team.

8. Touchdown Dance

Meaning: A celebratory dance or display of excitement after achieving a significant goal.

In a Sentence: After scoring the winning goal, the striker performed a touchdown dance that thrilled the fans.

9. Go for Broke

Meaning: To risk everything for a big gain or success.

In a Sentence: In the final moments of the game, the coach decided to go for broke, sending all the players forward.

10. Behind the Eight Ball

Meaning: In a difficult or disadvantageous position.

In a Sentence: After losing their star player to an injury, the team found themselves behind the eight ball for the rest of the season.

11. Change of Possession

Meaning: When one team loses the ball to the other team, typically through a turnover or interception.

In a Sentence: The change of possession gave the opposing team a chance to score.

12. Play by Ear

Meaning: Making decisions or taking actions based on the situation at hand, without a fixed plan.

In a Sentence: Without a set strategy, the coach decided to play by ear and adjust the team’s tactics during the game.

13. Punt on the Issue

Meaning: Avoiding making a decision or taking a stance on a particular matter.

In a Sentence: Rather than taking a side in the argument, he decided to punt on the issue and remain neutral.

14. End Run

Meaning: A strategy where a player avoids the most direct path to the goal to gain an advantage.

In a Sentence: The wide receiver executed an end run to avoid the defenders and reach the end zone.

15. Pass the Buck

Meaning: To transfer responsibility or blame to someone else.

In a Sentence: Instead of owning up to the mistake, he tried to pass the buck and put the blame on his teammate.

16. Face Off

Meaning: A confrontation or contest between two individuals or teams.

In a Sentence: The face-off between the rivals was intense, with both teams determined to win.

17. Out of Bounds

Meaning: Beyond the designated playing area; not within the acceptable limits.

In a Sentence: The referee declared the ball out of bounds, awarding possession to the opposing team.

18. Run Interference

Meaning: To obstruct or disrupt the progress of an opponent, often to help a teammate.

In a Sentence: The offensive lineman ran interference, blocking the defenders and allowing the quarterback to pass.

19. Sack the Quarterback

Meaning: To tackle the opposing team’s quarterback behind the line of scrimmage, often resulting in a loss of yards.

In a Sentence: The defense managed to sack the quarterback multiple times during the game, putting pressure on the offense.

20. Two-Minute Warning

Meaning: A notification given with two minutes left in a half or game to indicate the time remaining.

In a Sentence: With the score tied and the clock ticking, the coach called a timeout after the two-minute warning.

21. Play for Keeps

Meaning: To compete with seriousness and determination, often with a focus on winning.

In a Sentence: In the championship match, both teams were playing for keeps, giving their all on the field.

22. Game Plan

Meaning: A strategy or plan developed to achieve success in a game or competition.

In a Sentence: The coach outlined the team’s game plan, emphasizing the need for solid defense.

23. Offside Trap

Meaning: A defensive tactic where players position themselves to catch the opposing team’s players offside.

In a Sentence: The team executed the offside trap perfectly, frustrating the opponent’s attempts to advance.

24. Run the Clock

Meaning: To control the pace of the game by using up as much time as possible, especially when leading.

In a Sentence: With a comfortable lead, the team decided to run the clock down by making short, safe plays.

25. Call an Audible

Meaning: To change a planned play at the last moment based on the situation or the opponent’s actions.

In a Sentence: The quarterback decided to call an audible at the line of scrimmage, adjusting the play to exploit the defense’s weakness.

26. Benchwarmer

Meaning: A player who rarely gets to participate in the game and spends most of the time on the bench.

In a Sentence: Although he was passionate about the sport, he often found himself as a benchwarmer, waiting for his chance to play.

27. Fumble the Snap

Meaning: To mishandle the exchange of the ball between the center and the quarterback, often resulting in a turnover.

In a Sentence: The team’s chance to score was lost when the quarterback fumbled the snap, and the opposing team recovered the ball.

10 Quizzes About The Idiom in The Article

Quiz 1: Football Idioms – What’s the Meaning?

Question 1: What does the idiom “Kick the Bucket” mean?

  • A) Scoring a field goal.
  • B) Making a mistake.
  • C) A humorous way to say someone has passed away.

Answer: C) A humorous way to say someone has passed away.


Quiz 2: Football Idioms – Fill in the Blank

Question 2: In football, when a team changes the rules or expectations to make something harder to achieve, it’s called “_______.”

Answer: Move the Goalposts


Quiz 3: Football Idioms – True or False

Question 3: “Throw in the Towel” means to keep fighting even in the face of overwhelming odds. (True/False)

Answer: False


Quiz 4: Football Idioms – Completing the Sentence

Question 4: When someone is willing to sacrifice their personal interests for the benefit of the team, they are willing to “Take _____ for the _____.”

Answer: One, Team


Quiz 5: Football Idioms – Match the Meaning

Question 5: Match the idiom to its meaning:
Idiom: “Behind the Eight Ball”
Meaning: In a difficult or disadvantageous position.

Answer: Matching Meaning – “Behind the Eight Ball”


Quiz 6: Football Idioms – What’s the Opposite?

Question 6: What’s the opposite of “Play for Keeps”?

  • A) Play for Fun
  • B) Play for Keeps
  • C) Play for Charity

Answer: A) Play for Fun


Quiz 7: Football Idioms – True or False

Question 7: “Punt on the Issue” means making a quick decision on a matter. (True/False)

Answer: False


Quiz 8: Football Idioms – Finish the Sentence

Question 8: To obstruct or disrupt the progress of an opponent, often to help a teammate, is known as running _______.

Answer: Interference


Quiz 9: Football Idioms – What’s the Meaning?

Question 9: What does the idiom “Call an Audible” mean?

  • A) To follow the original plan.
  • B) To change a planned play at the last moment based on the situation.
  • C) To call a timeout.

Answer: B) To change a planned play at the last moment based on the situation.


Quiz 10: Football Idioms – Completing the Sentence

Question 10: When a player mishandles the exchange of the ball between the center and quarterback, it’s referred to as “Fumble the ______.”

Answer: Snap

Conclusion

Football idioms not only make the game more exciting but also offer a unique way to describe various situations in life. Whether you’re a fan of the sport or not, understanding these idioms can be fun and enlightening.

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