Definition of rugby in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈrəɡbē/
(also rugby football)


A team game played with an oval ball that may be kicked, carried, and passed from hand to hand. Points are scored by grounding the ball behind the opponents’ goal line (thereby scoring a try) or by kicking it between the two posts and over the crossbar of the opponents’ goal. See also rugby league and rugby union.
Example sentences
  • Keen frosts had slowly given way to warmer weather and after a fortnight's hold-up rugby football and hockey teams were able to play.
  • He was a school monitor, head of Clifton Rise house and played for the first team at both rugby and hockey.
  • Football is kicking rugby off the top spot at some of the region's leading public schools.


Mid 19th century: named after Rugby School, where the game was first played.

  • The game of rugby is named after Rugby School in Warwickshire, England, the public school where it was first played. According to tradition, in a school football match in 1823 a boy named William Webb Ellis first took the ball in his arms and ran with it, so originating the game. The informal name rugger was invented at Oxford University in, it seems, 1893. At the time there was a student craze for adding –er to the end of words, which gave us words such as soccer, brekkers (for ‘breakfast’), and preggers (for ‘pregnant’), as well as some that lasted only for a year or so, like Pragger-Wagger for the Prince of Wales, and even wagger-pagger-bagger for ‘wastepaper basket’. Ironically, the craze started at Rugby School, home of rugby.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: rug·by

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