um·pire (ŭm’pīr′)
n. 1) Sports A person appointed to rule on plays, especially in baseball. 2) A person appointed to settle a dispute that mediators have been unable to resolve; an arbitrator.
v. um·pired, um·pir·ing, um·pires
v. tr. To act as referee for; rule or judge.
v. intr. To be or act as a referee or an arbitrator.
[Middle English (an) oumpere, (an) umpire, alteration of (a) noumpere, a mediator, from Old French nonper : non-, non- + per, equal, even, paired (from Latin pār; see PAIR(Cf. ↑pair)).]
Word History: Had it not been for the linguistic process known as false splitting or juncture loss, the angry, anguished cry heard at sports events, "Kill the ump," could have been "Kill the nump." In the case of umpire we can almost see false splitting in action by studying the Middle English Dictionary entry for noumpere, the Middle English ancestor of our word. Noumpere comes from Old French nonper, made up of non, "not," and per, "equal." As an impartial arbiter of a dispute between two people, the umpire is not equivalent to or a partisan of either of them. In Middle English the earliest recorded form is noumper (about 1350); the earliest form without an n is owmpere, recorded in a document dated 1440. How the n was lost can be seen if we compare the sequence a noounpier in a text written in 1426-1427 with the sequence an Oumper from a text written probably around 1475. In an Oumper, the n has become attached to the indefinite article, giving us an instead of a and, eventually, umpire instead of numpire. The same sort of false splitting has altered the forms of other words as well. Apron, for example, used to be napron, and adder used to be nadder. The reverse process has also occurred in the history of English: words that originally began with vowels acquired an n from a preceding indefinite article. Nickname comes from an obsolete phrase an eke name, "an additional name." Newt comes from an eute. A variant of the Middle English word eute still survives as eft, "a newt."

Word Histories. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Umpire — Um pire, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Umpired}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Umpiring}.] 1. To decide as umpire; to arbitrate; to settle, as a dispute. [1913 Webster] Judges appointed to umpire the matter in contest between them, and to decide where the right lies.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • umpire — um·pire n: a person having authority to decide finally a controversy or question between parties: as a: one appointed to decide between disagreeing arbitrators b: an impartial third party chosen to arbitrate disputes arising under the terms of a… …   Law dictionary

  • umpire — [um′pīr] n. [ME oumpere, altered by faulty separation of a noumpire < noumpere (see ADDER2, APRON) < MFr nomper, uneven, hence an uneven number, third person < non, not + per, even < L par,PAR1] 1. a person chosen to render a decision …   English World dictionary

  • Umpire — Um pire, v. i. To act as umpire or arbitrator. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Umpire — Um pire, n. [OE. nompere, nounpere (also impier, fr. F. impair uneven), fr. OF. nomper uneven, F. non pair; hence the meaning, uneven, i. e., third person; non not + OF. per even, equal, peer, F. pair; cf. L. impar uneven, unequal. See {Non },… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • umpire — ► NOUN 1) (in certain sports) an official who enforces the rules of a game and settles disputes arising from the play. 2) a person chosen to settle a dispute between contending parties. ► VERB ▪ act as an umpire. ORIGIN originally as noumpere,… …   English terms dictionary

  • umpire — → ampáyer …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • umpire — n referee, *judge, arbiter, arbitrator …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • umpire — [n] person who settles dispute adjudicator, arbiter, arbitrator, assessor, compromiser, inspector, judge, justice, mediator, moderator, negotiator, peacemaker, proprietor, ref*, referee, settler, ump*; concepts 348,366,423 …   New thesaurus

  • Umpire — El umpire del home Gary Darling decretando que el último lanzamiento fue un strike El Umpire, Ompayer o Ampayer es la persona encargada en arbitrar un juego de Béisbol. Solo deben haber 4 umpires, los umpires lineales, el umpire central y el… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Umpire — Als Umpire (von Mittelenglisch oumpere < noumpere < Anglonormannisch nounpier, nompere < non + per, „ungleich“ im Sinne von „unparteiisch“) bezeichnet man in einigen Sportarten einen Schiedsrichter. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 im Baseball 2 im… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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