General English


  • noun either of the two (or at international level, four) officials whose function is to ensure that a cricket match is conducted in accordance with the Laws and spirit of the game and to adjudicate on any point submitted to them by the players; the two ‘on-field’ umpires are, in international games, supplemented by two ‘off-field’ umpires, the third umpire and fourth umpire
    Citation ‘Each Umpire is the sole Judge of all nips and Catches; Inns and Outs; good or bad Runs … and his Determination shall be absolute’ (Laws 1744)
    Citation ‘A week ago, Hair became the first umpire to impose a five-run penalty for ball-tampering’ (Vic Marks, Observer 27 August 2006)
  • verb to act as umpire in a cricket match
    Citation ‘More often, when feelings ran high umpiring was the cause’ (John Woodcock, Wisden 1984)

Human Resources

  • noun an independent person who is asked to decide in a dispute in cases where the adjudicators cannot come to a decision


  • noun a person called in to decide when two arbitrators cannot agree


  • noun a person assigned to observe a military training exercise and to assess the performance of those taking part


  • noun an official who supervises play and enforces the rules of the game in some sports, e.g. cricket and baseball

Origin & History of “umpire”

An umpire is etymologically someone who is ‘not the equal’ of others, and is therefore neutral between them. The word’s ultimate source is Old French nomper, a compound noun formed from the prefix non- ‘not’ and per ‘equal’ (source of English peer). this was borrowed into English in the 14th century as noumpere, but soon misdivision of a noumpere as an oumpere led to umpire (the same process produced adder from an original nadder).