General Sports Idioms

Those Common to Most Sports & Games

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
difficult to win; to win against great odds
Sentence 1
That horse is a long shot to win the Belmont race.
Meaning 2
very difficult to do
Sentence 2
That stock is a long shot to hit one hundred on the American stock exchange.

Derivation

In ancient England, archery contests were held to see who could make the longest shot with a bow and arrow. This expression is so old it has become imbedded in the language as an idiom associated not with a particular sport, but all sports,games, and activities associated with risk. For example, if "long shot" was used literally in a sport, it would be associated with shooting an .arrow, a bullet or something thrown in track and field. Thus it's a long shot for an archer to hit the bullseye at 90 meters.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
before the game or event
Sentence 1
I'll meet you five minutes ahead of the game at section "M" at the football stadium.
Meaning 2
to have worked or done more than necessary, to have an advantage
Sentence 2
I have to work extra hours to stay ahead of the game on this negotiation.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The game or sports event is finished or "over" and only the cheering is left
Sentence 1
The World Series is all over but the shouting.
Meaning 2
decided, concluded
Sentence 2
The Gulf War is all over but the shouting.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit a player on his "blind-side"or the side away from which a player is looking
Sentence 1
The quarterback was blind-sided by the defensive end.
Meaning 2
to not see what is going to happen
Sentence 2
I was blind-sided. I didn't know he was going to come up with those kind of figures for the buy-out.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit a surface and rebound
Sentence 1
The ball bounced over the wall.
Meaning 2
to jump around
Sentence 2
High technology stocks seem to bounce around a lot on the stock market. That stock took a big bounce yesterday.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
To play defensively: a team or person tries to keep the opposing team from scoring.
Sentence 1
The team was better at defensive play than offensive play.
Meaning 2
to be defensive on a business project, a political project, in one's personal life.
Sentence 2
We better play. defensively. Think of possible questions and have the answers ready.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
not within the rules of the game; an infraction of the rules
Sentence 1
The referee blew his whistle. There was a foul play.
Meaning 2
an illegal activity, a bad practice or unfair
Sentence 2
Stealing my girlfriend was foul play.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
any game in which two players oppose each other There are many more idioms using the term "game" as a noun, for example: It's a whole different game; It's a whole different ball game; It's a new game; That's an old game. There are also more idioms using "game" as an adjective as in game plan (above) and He's game. (He will play the game). The student or reader can think of ways to use this idiom in sentences or his or her own, at work, at play or at home. Other terms commonly used which derive from many sports and games, rather than a specific one, are those associated with play, player, and teams.
Sentence 1
Tennis is a game at which two can play.
Meaning 2
similar strategies that two people play, often in opposition to win or cause psychic harm
Sentence 2
"Oh, so you've had and affair! Two can play that game.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a plan to win the game
Sentence 1
What's the game plan for the play-off?
Meaning 2
a plan to win in anything in life, if not life itself
Sentence 2
What's the game plan to win this advertising contract?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to begin to understand something, to be actively involved
Sentence 1
You'll get into the swing of things soon. You've only been here a month.
Meaning 2
to be actively involved
Sentence 2
The president of the corporation told his financial officer that he was doing well; he was getting into the swing of things.

Derivation

This idiom refers primarily to the word "swing" as an action and not to a specific sports term.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to give the game away by not playing well or showing one's strategy to the opposing team
Sentence 1
The team didn't play well. They gave the game away. Don't give the game away by showing your cards.
Meaning 2
to show or reveal a strategy
Sentence 2
If you show them the ad, you'll give the game away.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to try to win
Sentence 1
She went for it and won the World Cup downhill.
Meaning 2
to try one's best
Sentence 2
Go for it! Try to be a doctor.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to play a game on a team's home field or court
Sentence 1
The Eagles have a home court advantage when they play football in Philadelphia.
Meaning 2
to have an advantage
Sentence 2
I had a home court advantage when they argued.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be in good physical condition
Sentence 1
He's in good shape for the soccer season. He has been running five miles three times a week.
Meaning 2
to be in good condition
Sentence 2
That company is in good shape. It's price earnings ratio is under twelve.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be fully engaged in the "swing"
Sentence 1
You need to take the racquet into a full swing in order to hit the ball properly.
Meaning 2
to move fast or efficiently
Sentence 2
Let's get the factory into full swing. We'll need those cars by November.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to continue playing or rolling the ball (so your opponents cannot get it)
Sentence 1
Don't let the other team get the ball. Keep the ball rolling.
Meaning 2
to keep something going, to continue to work on something
Sentence 2
Jill, it's your responsibility to keep the ball rolling on the ads for our new account.

Derivation

to keep the croquet ball rolling so your opponent cannot get his turn

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
level or flat playing field is important so that the play is fair.
Sentence 1
We need a level playing field for soccer, so one team does not have to run uphill.
Meaning 2
to be fair, to be equal
Sentence 2
They had more troops. We bombed them, so we had a level playing field before we sent in our troops.

Derivation

The idiom above, used in the Gulf War of 1990 refers to equalizing the numbers of ground troops rather than a level area for men to fight. In this case, the idiom is so far removed from its literal meaning of a flat or level field it becomes rather confusing.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The most valuable player or M.V.P. is the player who contributes the most to the success of his or her team.
Sentence 1
Mike Trout is the most valuable player in the American League.
Meaning 2
He or she is the most valuable player on the team, whether in business, politics or the nome.
Sentence 2
Betty was considered the most valuable player on the legal team.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
made a hit in baseball or in another ball sport
Sentence 1
Hank Aaron got three hits in the world series. He ranks third in runs and hits. He was a great hitter.
Meaning 2
to do well
Sentence 2
He made a hit with his girlfriend when he took her out to dinner.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to win points in a competition
Sentence 1
Basketball players make lots of points in a game.
Meaning 2
to make a successful move
Sentence 2
Did you make points with the boss by working overtime?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to stay a team member after the coach takes out thoseplayers he doesn't want
Sentence 1
He made the cut. He'll play with the team this fall.
Meaning 2
to stay with the business or agency after the manager has fired or laid off people
Sentence 2
He made the cut. He'll be hired as our new account executive.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the name of a particular game or sport; what something is called
Sentence 1
The name of the game is baseball.
Meaning 2
the goal or objective
Sentence 2
The name of the game in New York City is to hustle.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
an easy game requires little sweat or perspiration
Sentence 1
That was a no sweat game.
Meaning 2
no problem
Sentence 2
I'll do the job. No sweat!
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
extremely difficult to win or accomplish something
Sentence 1
She won't win that tennis match, not by a long shot.
Meaning 2
extremely difficult to win or accomplish something
Sentence 2
He won't get that contract, not by a long shot.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to push or attack the defense of the opposing team in order to make a point
Sentence 1
We need to improve our offensive play in order to win the football game next week.
Meaning 2
to have a strategic plan, to try to score
Sentence 2
We need an offensive play in order to get the order. Do you think we can lower the price?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be outside the boundaries of play
Sentence 1
the basketball went out of bounds and the game stopped.
Meaning 2
not correct, not according to the rules
Sentence 2
Swearing is out of bounds in this office. Please do not do it.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to play the game with someone, usually for a short time
Sentence 1
Please play along with the team for awhile.
Meaning 2
to cooperate for a time
Sentence 2
Play along on this business arrangement until I can get a replacement.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to participate in a game or contest with fixed rules
Sentence 1
Do you know how to play the game of tennis?
Meaning 2
to know the rules and follow them; The game equals business or anything in which one competes in life.
Sentence 2
He is a good team player. He knows how to play the game.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
teams play against each other until one team wins
Sentence 1
The two top teams in the league go to the play-offs.
Meaning 2
to compete to win something
Sentence 2
We're into the play-offs on this contract. Do your best to get it for us.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to play a game or sport
Sentence 1
Mary is a good bridge player.
Meaning 2
to work with a group
Sentence 2
You can trust Alice. She is a good player.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to begin something that has been thought out or worked on previously
Sentence 1
The quarterback told his team to put the new play into action.
Meaning 2
to begin something
Sentence 2
Let's put that new ad into play on prime time on CBS.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to have a seat near to the action of the game or fight
Sentence 1
He had a ringside seat at the Tyson fight.
Meaning 2
to be where the action is
Sentence 2
The general had a ringside seat just behind the troop lines.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to support, to cheer for
Sentence 1
He roots for the Pittsburgh Pirates, because he is from Pittsburgh.
Meaning 2
to support
Sentence 2
We root for the government to cut taxes.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the number of points gained or lost in a competition
Sentence 1
What was the score of the baseball game yesterday?
Meaning 2
an account of what is happening in something
Sentence 2
What's the score on your sales this week?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to win or lose points in competition
Sentence 1
Wilt Chamberlain scored 3033 points for the Philadelphia Warriors basketball team in 1960. The Canadian Olympic Men's Hockey Team scored three goals to the U.S. two goals in 2002.
Meaning 2
to do well
Sentence 2
Did you score with that pretty girl you met last week?

Derivation

Originally, scores were kept by making marks or cutting notches on something. To score still has his meaning, as well as those associated with sports and games.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to improve one's physical shape in order to perform better
Sentence 1
That baseball team bettershape up this spring in spring practice.
Meaning 2
to do or perform better
Sentence 2
You better shape up at the office or you will lose your job.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a stroke or blow with one or both arms, with or without an object, in a large arc. In many sports the player uses equipment, such as a bat, golf club, racquet, to hit a ball. He swings at the ball.
Sentence 1
In golf, keep your head down as you swing at the ball.
Meaning 2
to do something, to make something happen
Sentence 2
It will be a hard job, but I'll take a swing at it.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to divide into opposing teams
Sentence 1
Will the players please choose and take sides.
Meaning 2
to favor one viewpoint over another
Sentence 2
I didn't want to take sides in that argument.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a group of players in a game or sport
Sentence 1
The Philadelphia Eagles are a professional football team.
Meaning 2
a group associated together for a common purpose
Sentence 2
Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense for the United States, was part of the President's team for the Gulf War offensive.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be part of the playing team
Sentence 1
Pete Rose was a good team player for the Phillie's baseball team in the '80's.
Meaning 2
to cooperate with the group
Sentence 2
We need team players on our quality control group.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
how the ball reacts to a surface or racquet
Sentence 1
That's the way the ball bounces in Aspen, Colorado. The altitude is 8500 feet.
Meaning 2
the way things happen
Sentence 2
He was fired. That's too bad, but that's the way the ball bounces in a recession.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the event
Sentence 1
We're going to the "Big Game" this year, the Stanford-Cal football game.
Meaning 2
competition, as in business, relationships or most of life
Sentence 2
There are international rules for the game of war; poison gas is forbidden.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to stop the clock during a game
Sentence 1
The quarterback called a time-out in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Meaning 2
to take a break or some time-out from a project
Sentence 2
I'm tired. Could we have a time-out?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to begin the game
Sentence 1
Let's start the ball rolling. Begin the game.
Meaning 2
to begin anything
Sentence 2
Start the ball rolling on the Domino account. I want to see the ads in a month.