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From a Middle English rebracketing of a noumpere as an oumpere, from Old French nonper (odd number, not even (as a tie-breaking arbitrator)), from non (not) + per (equal), from Latin par (equal).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈʌm.paɪ.ə(ɹ)/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪə(ɹ)


umpire (plural umpires)

  1. (tennis, badminton) The official who presides over a tennis match sat on a high chair.
  2. (cricket) One of the two white-coated officials who preside over a cricket match.
  3. (baseball) One of the officials who preside over a baseball game.
    The umpire called the pitch a strike.
  4. (American football) The official who stands behind the line on the defensive side or next to the referee on the offensive side.
    The umpire must keep on his toes as the play often occurs around him.
  5. (Australian rules football) A match official on the ground deciding and enforcing the rules during play. As of 2007 the Australian Football League uses three; in the past there were two or just one. The other officials, the goal umpires and boundary umpires, are usually referred to by those phrases.
  6. (law) A person who arbitrates between contending parties.
    • a. 1701 (date written), John Dryden, “To His Sacred Majesty. A Panegyric on his Coronation.”, in The Miscellaneous Works of John Dryden, [], volume I, London: [] J[acob] and R[ichard] Tonson, [], published 1760, →OCLC, page 34:
      You for their umpire and their ſynod take, / And their appeal alone to Cæſar make.
  7. (curling) The official who presides over a curling game.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In general, and as a usage guideline, a referee moves around with the game, while an umpire stays (approximately) in one place.

Coordinate terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



umpire (third-person singular simple present umpires, present participle umpiring, simple past and past participle umpired)

  1. (sports, intransitive) To act as an umpire in a game.
    Coordinate term: referee
  2. (transitive) To decide as an umpire.
    Synonyms: arbitrate, settle
    • 1692–1717, Robert South, Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, 6th edition, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: [] J[ames] Bettenham, for Jonah Bowyer, [], published 1727, →OCLC:
      Judges appointed to umpire the matter in contest between them, and to decide where the right lies.


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Further reading[edit]




umpire m (plural umpires)

  1. umpire