Super Bowl Word Origins

Bowl as in Super Bowl derives from the eating vessel bowl. Its first sports meaning was "football stadium," though such a stadium is no longer necessarily bowl-shaped. The Yale Bowl is an example of a football stadium so named. As a sporting event, it first referred to the Rose Bowl (1923) and, later, the Super Bowl.

Coach first referred to a cart or carriage and came to mean "a private tutor" in British universities around 1848. The sense of "an athletic trainer" (especially for a boat race) was first recorded in 1885.

The origin of football goes way back as an open-air game between two teams using an inflated ball. Mainly the ball was kicked, thereby football. A football game was played in China as early as 206 BC, and by 500 AD round footballs stuffed with hair were in use. In ancient Greece, a game with elements of football — episkuros or harpaston — was played. It migrated to Rome as harpastum by the 2nd century BC. Football has been associated with violence ever since 13th century England. The original form of the game, most often played on Shrove Tuesdays and other Holy Days, involved battles between neighboring villages and towns.

A quarterback is so named because originally the player was positioned between the forwards (now the offensive line) and the halfbacks. The term was first recorded in print in 1895 according to the OED.

Referee originally referred to a person appointed by the British Parliament to examine patent applications (1621) and was formed from English refer and -ee. The sense of "an arbitrator or person to whom a dispute is referred" was first recorded in 1690; by 1840 the word acquired the further sense of "the judge of play in games and sports."

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